Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM
After a delightful Sunday roast with friends I make my excuses and leave. I have a night of excitement ahead of me, so leaving the wife at the friends, I quickly drop in at home, pick my camera gear and then head off to the West Midlands once again. This time the destination is the O2 Academy just on the side of the A38 in the middle of darkest ‘Brum’.
Having read their Covid Mission statement I’d previously done an LFT and registered it so I get the NHS text, I also make sure I have the NHS Covid passport available for inspection too.
So, driving into Brum on a Sunday evening would be straightforward they said, so just over 2 and a bit hours later I’m parked outside the venue. So much for the 1 hour ten that the two sat nav’s had predicted. Im still early so I jump out of the motor to check on the entrance which was around the corner.
I’d not been here before so it was a worthwhile exercise in my book. On finding the entrance, it was encouraging to see that fans were already queuing to get in, and we still had 45mins until doors.
After a quick shot for the socials I scurried back to the car to keep warm, it was 4 deg C outside, my car has heated seats, winner!
19:45 I jump out, grab my gear and head for the doors, they opened at 7:30 so there should be little or no queue. I’m in luck the queue has gone. I get to the door and have may bag checked, as I’m closing my bag up, I let a couple of lads jump in front of me. Covid check!! They show pictures of an LFT on the phones and are let in by the security without a question, contravening what the O2 Academy stipulates on their Web page.
Ironically when it’s my turn I have to show the NHS text on my phone, and this was with the same security individual. Excuse the rant but if you’re going to have a Covid Mission statement then it should be enforced to the letter. No disrespect to the two lads but looking at the phones as they were being shown, they were one and the same picture.
The night is a sell-out, and, OK it’s the smaller of the rooms, but the place is buzzing with anticipation. The fans are in early so they will catch the Support, which is great. All too many times I’ve been to a venue that has the support playing to a handful of dis-interested fans.
Tonight, was different, as they enthusiastically got behind the openers ‘A New Hope’. This 6 piece, I’m sure it was a 6 piece as the guy at the laptop spent most of the night singing into another microphone!
Classing themselves as Heavy Pop Punk, I found them a great outfit sounding more akin to McFly than Blink 182. They did venture down the heavier side but it was never ‘Nasty’, and to me they were the perfect warm up band for what was to follow.
On stage they seemed a tad subdued, more than likely because it was due to the small stage, they didn’t have the room to breathe. I’d like to hear this ‘Americanesque’ post punk, easy core band, in a bigger room with a longer set.
Setlist: 1. Purple Drank: 2. Don’t Come: 3. No Memes: 4. The Triggering: 5. 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon: 6. Swag Bag
After a quick change over we get ready to rock again. ‘Punk Rock Factory’, a group of mates who started off playing covers in an up-tempo style for fun, throwing a few videos online now and again, only to find they’ve gathered a huge following, hanging on their every release the fans were wanting more.
Now, post apocalypse, I mean pandemic, this Welsh 4 piece are now embarking on their much awaited, debut UK tour. After a playing a set at this year’s Bloodstock, which had metal heads singing along to Frozen, Pokémon and Moana, they knew they had something tour able, so tonight is the much-awaited opening night of their 2021 ‘We’ve Got This Covered’ tour.
Coming out were straight into, ‘Back to The Future’, and ‘Jurassic Park’. The set list reads more like a ‘Now That’s What I Call Covers’ greatest hits, nothing on there is strange or unheard of, ok maybe one, but more about that later.
The crowd are behind them as one, singing word for word from the get go, we obviously have a room of real fans. The ‘Thundercat’s’ theme follows and I have to admit I’m foot stomping and nodding along. The crowd are loving it as the temperature soars, I’m glad I’ve got a couple of bottles of drink handy.
The Greatest Show’ is up next with its several false starts, obviously from the greatest Showman, that film of epic acclaim gets the PRF treatment and, for me is all the better for you. Dark and menacing, Kob on the drums is working overtime, as Ryan on stage left is sort of dancing as he drives the melody forward, Peej is throwing the vocals out like a demon, already sweat is flowing, he’s having a job being heard over the crowd.
Benj is thundering along stage right, his bass thudding you’re your chest as he smashes the tunes and keeps the backing vocals going despite the crowd, who are bouncing about and believe it or not, a mosh pit is forming in the middle of this small venue!
Showman flows into ‘Snowman’ and ‘Home Alone’ and there is still not let up from the crowd. The middle of the venue has opened up more the mosh pit is in full flow as those who need to vent are venting, guys are jumping up pointing, punching the air as they sing along to ‘Pokémon’ and then the slightly reggae punk ‘Under the Sea’ you can’t sing that in any way other than as Sebastian Marley.
Ryan’s staccato guitar blasts out the intro to this classic from the Little Mermaid. Benj and Peej smashing the vocals out as grown men jump and sing along, Kob’s, new, sparkly, candy swirl SJR kit is getting a good beating, the man is a demon with a pair of sticks in his hand.
Sat under a Punk Rock Factory Neon and a backdrop that resembles the walls in the ‘Sausage Factory’ the birthplace of this outrageously fun band, He drives each song along at the pace of a whirlwind, think Animal crossed with Dave Grohl and you’re in the ball park. ‘Your Welcome’, ‘The office’ and 1985 follow and then we’re back into cartoon land with “Animaniacs’ this again is greeted with huge smiles and reckless abandonment as the crowd are again launched into a singing frenzy.
With Christmas ever looming closer, its no surprise that the PRF have a version of a Christmas classic for all to get hold of. Shakin Stevens had chart success with ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ and tonight the fans are given a preview of the tune available on iTunes for the paltry sum of 69p says Benj, 59p corrects Peej. Let’s make it a Christmas number 1. How mental would that be. For those Interested, it drops on Dec 1st.
The set continues in the same high paced adrenaline fuelled PRF way, ‘Darkwing’ duck, ‘I’ll Make A Man Out of You’ and ‘Funhouse’ keep things bouncing along.
Papa Roach’s ‘Last Resort’, now given the green light by Papa Roach themselves gets the treatment, arms again punching from the crowd as they sing along, This track goes down a storm as it leads into the set closer, the Magical ‘Let it Go’ a video that they posted on the socials with Jaret Reddick (Bowling For Soup) singing the vocals. This again gets the fans singing at full voice, Peej and Benj have been drowned out yet again. The venue is on fire, I doubt there is a dry top in the place.
After a brief respite the band are back on for an encore of epic proportions. Starting off with ‘Power rangers’, a music video that I helped to film, and introduced me to the band for the first time, crashes out. Who doesn’t know that tune?
(Power Rangers Video)
Men at Works, ‘Down Under’ follows. Having been around when it was originally in the charts, this version is full of steroid driven grrr! Full of fast slammin’ guitars, thunderous drums, staccato vocals that pushes this tune along at the speed of sound, a crazy mash up that sees some great guitar playing from Ryan. We also get a sausage sandwich in it this time around, much tastier than vegemite in my book.
To finish the night off we get another Disney classic, ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from Moana. Again, the social media post featured another guest singer, Steve Rawles, tonight we have Peej and Benj giving it plenty but then grown men are bouncing around singing about this young girl and her adventures, and they’re not being quiet about it, its drowning them both out
. Quite the night it’s been.
The band have done a great job. Opening night has gone down amazingly well. This group of talented Welshies have smashed it. The crowd have now surged to the Merch stand, tee shirts, pins and vinyl are flying out the door. And now the band have joined the fans, the security are having a job getting everyone out of the venue.
So, for four idiots from Wales, they ain’t done so bad, who’d have thought high energy punk driven covers would get such a following. With a focus on producing quality digital content and sharing it on social media, it’s proven to be a winning formula for them. Having gotten in excess of 350,000 followers and more that 1.5million likes on Tik Tok alone. That’s gotta be a sign of success by anyone’s standards. It shows that they have arrived. This tour will reinforce that in very a big way. Get and bag yourself a night of high-quality sing along fun, but be quick as tickets are selling fast.
Setlist: 1. Back to the Future/ Jurassic Park: 2. Thundercat’s: 3. The Greatest Show: 4. The Snowman/ Home Alone: 5. Blinding Lights: 6. Sugar: 7. Pokémon: 8. Under the Sea: 9. Your Welcome/The Office: 10. 1985: 11. Animaniacs: 12. Go Your Own Way: 13. Can You Feel The Love Tonight: 14. Merry Xmas Everyone: 15. Darkwing: 16. I’ll Make A Man Out Of You: 17. Funhouse: 18. Last resort: 19. Let it Go/ Star
Encore: 20. Pokémon: 21. Down Under: 22. How Far I’ll Go
Punk Rock Factory are:
Peej – Guitar and Lead Vocals
Benj – Bass and backing Vocals
Ryan – Lead Guitar
Kob – Drums