LIVE: Silverstein / Hawthorne Heights @ O2 Academy Islington

By Adam Rosario

Two decades have passed since Silverstein formed. With nine studio albums to their name and a tenth due this year, their longevity is enviable. Tonight is a celebration of the past twenty years and, with all special occasions calling for special circumstances, Silverstein are performing three different sets, reflecting their entire discography. 

But a celebration is best shared with friends, so Silverstein have brought some of their oldest in the scene; Hawthorne Heights have shared many a stage with tonight’s headliners and are well versed in knowing how to warm up a crowd, bounding on stage and ripping through a seven song set. It’s clear that this crowd is more than aware of the opener’s back catalogue – ‘Wake Up Call’ opens and tears through the venue, bringing with it a mass singalong before ‘The Transition’ ramps up the emotion. Together, ‘Saying Sorry’ and a superb ‘Ohio Is For Lovers’ bring their sprint to an end, perfectly setting the stage for the main event.

With the tour being part of their 20th anniversary, this might be the longest Silverstein have ever played. Starting with a greatest hits set, they bring out the bigger songs straight from the off, with ‘Burn It Down’ setting the tempo. As circle pits erupt across the venue, the chorus is sung at the stage, only to be screamed back to the crowd by front man Shane Told. ‘Retrograde’ shows the band at their best, mixing the heavy guitars with an almost pop-punk chorus that really shows off the band’s musicianship and ability; Told’s vocals glide through the chaos with bassist Billy Hamilton and guitarist Paul Marc Rousseau combining to add to the wall of sound. With 36 songs to power through over three sets, there are two medleys, starting with ‘A Great Fire / Vices / Broken Stars’, leading into another new single, ‘Infinite’, where the crowd reaction almost leads to the roof crashing in. The greatest hits set finishes with a nine (yes, nine!) song medley, into a cover of OneRepublic’s ‘Apologize’ before closing with ‘The Afterglow’, bringing the energy to a peak.

A six song acoustic set follows, with Told being able to show off his solo performances with aplomb. In this rare quiet moment, he’s able to interact with the crowd, telling the audience this is his favourite part of the set because he “doesn’t get to play a lot of guitar anymore”. An emotional ‘Massachusetts’ opens the proceedings before ‘Still Dreaming’ brings the band back on stage. The most emotional moment of the night, though, belongs to ‘Replace You’, which tugs at the heartstrings of the whole crowd before the full band closes on ‘Toronto (Unabridged)’.

The final set sees Silverstein tear through their second album, celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year. ‘Discovering The Waterfront’ still holds up as a classic of the Warped Tour scene and sounds as sharp as ever. Every riff sounds heavier, every scream feels more emotional and every band member looks like they’re having the most fun possible. ‘Your Sword Versus My Dagger’ hits harder than a lot of album openers, whilst ‘Smile In Your Sleep’ proves its worth as the only single released from the album. Elsewhere, the title track allows the band to slow it down, and really lament in a sombre moment before ‘Defend You’ ups the pace again. ‘My Heroine’ has the radio friendly appeal that should’ve made it a hit in the early noughties, and it still holds up today in a live environment.

After the pop-punk bounce of ‘Call It Karma’, the show comes to an end with a vicious ‘Bleeds No More’, giving Told one more chance to show off his feral screams, bringing the first of two nights at the 02 Academy Islington to a close. Throughout the journey of the night, over three sets, it’s easy to see why this band has been around for as long as they have. In every one of their songs, it’s clear they’ve been an inspiration to later bands, be it in the pop-punk sphere or the metalcore-laden riffs and screams. They played thirty six songs throughout this show, and not one was received with a whimper. Silverstein may have celebrated their 20th anniversary, but their recent output shows they’re not slowing down. Long may it continue.