Very few performers can connect with their audience on an experiential level like Adam Zwig, as you can hear with this incredible live cut from his performance at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre, the roar of the exuberant crowd was a pendulous ring over the anthemic “Going Back To LA”
The opening track off of Zwig’s most recent release Stones, Bones and Skin , “Going Back To Vermont”, reworded here for the namesake town he performed in to support the release of the EP, is the kind of song that recalls the canyon rock of Laurel or Topanga but totally captures the sunshine attitude attributed to the city of Los Angeles. The folky tune has a warm hearted, bucolic feel that leaves you with a swath of positivity, Zwig’s honeyed vocals flow with the same viscosity as molasses as he recalls that no matter where he goes, he’s going to come back.
Music is a conversation for Adam Zwig, it’s a veritable thoroughfare for the exchange of emotions between himself and the audience. His 2015 live album, Adam Zwig: Live at the Wiltern Theatre [Conscious Records], which this phenomenal live track comes from, elucidates just how tight that connection is.
“When I play a show, it’s less about people looking at me,” he asserts. “It’s more like a tribal, spiritual gathering, and we’re communicating back and forth. It’s about us, and we create something together. It’s not a one-way thing. Everyone is actually jamming on it.”
Rather than piece together cuts from various evenings to assemble the album, he delivers one entire uncut performance on Live at the Wiltern Theatre. Grammy Award winner David Bianco [U2, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash] preserves the ambience of the room, allowing the audience a voice in the process. Days before the big night, Adam began encouraging a looseness amongst his band, and the record brings his artful amalgam of folk, indie, roots, and rock to life like never before.
“We really started doing things in the moment around that time,” he says. “I used to emphasize mirroring the sound of the records, but playing live is about that fluidity between the musicians on stage and the audience. That’s how the energy transfers.”
The opener and first single, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” coasts between melodic guitar leads, bright organs, rustic percussion, and his dynamic delivery. “That’s the only cover I’ve ever recorded,” he explains. “The original is very sweet and acoustic. We totally rocked it out! Dylan went through a period of really surrealist lyrics where all of these strange images came together. I love that.”
Then, there’s the fan favorite “Once A True Love,” which in between roaring crowd applause, augments his wayfarer lyrics with a distinct beat. “I actually rewrote the verses for the live version,” he goes on. “I wanted something more upbeat and up-tempo to describe this experience I’d gone through. You can really feel the love story unfold.”
The set culminates in a striking rendition of “Raising People,” which relays an important message for Zwig through the progressive keyboards and soaring chorus. He says, “That one asks the question, ‘How do we make change in the world?’ You can’t beat people up to make them do what you want them to do. You have to lift them up instead.”
Ultimately, he continues to further the dialogue with his fans with the release of his forthcoming seventh solo album and a whole lot more touring. Live at the Wiltern Theatre, out this fall, represents the commencement of his next phase. “I hope everyone can see there’s something powerful that can happen in a concert,” he leaves off. “You are as big of a part of it as I am.”
For more information, visit his website http://adamzwig.com/