Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
Self-described, on their official Facebook page, as ‘Four Idiots making punk rock covers’ energetic Welsh pop-punk outfit Punk Rock Factory have been going through this stage since their formation back in 2014.
With their fifth studio album, with which the tour shares its title, recently released, and coupled with the undeniable fact that ten of this tour’s twelve dates, including tonight, have sold out this is a stage that shows no sign of relenting.
Hurtling out of the Sausage Factory this quartet have a basic mission – that is to entertain, surprise and have a huge dollop of good ol’ fashioned fun along the way. To that end they most certainly succeed with the opening night of the tour registering on seismic charts. It’s a wondrous blur of punked up Disney classics, tv theme tunes and the odd, unexpected slab of rock history.
The crowd, rammed inside SWX, love it in droves lapping up every last moment. Following tonight ‘The Stage’ continues towards Glasgow and beyond. Further kaleidoscopic mayhem awaits, absolutely no doubt of it.
Hyper-happy DJ Matt Stocks is seemingly living the best night of his life as he successfully warms up the Bristol crowd ahead of Stateside rockers Adam And The Metal Hawks stepping forth. With backs to the audience guitarist Johnny Barry and bassist Ryan Daversa strike a mean pose. Drummer Griffin McCarthy settles as Daversa points a single finger skywards. A burst of light and vocalist Adam Ezagelian roars from the depths of the Underworld.
They go for the jugular from the off delivering a pinpoint version of The Rocky Horror Show’s ‘Timewarp’; the crowd, nicely filling the venue, are onside within the first minute and remain so throughout a thoroughly captivating 40 or so minutes.
In a carefully curated setlist designed to entertain and introduce the New Yorkers thrill with tracks off their new album ‘Hurry Up and Wait’ nestling alongside a couple of mainstays from their eponymous 2020 EP as well as three further covers. These renditions salute their broad influences that stretch from the funky end of the spectrum to the harder fringes of rock.
Lobbing in Donna Summer’s classic ‘Hot Stuff’ towards the closing stages is a genius stroke and goes down a veritable storm; reckon this will hit the stratosphere when the tour reaches Sheffield. Ezegelian’s wide-ranging vocals shine on both Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and a barnstorming, hair-raising rendition Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’; the latter the pitch-perfect way to wrap up a scintillating performance.
The funky head nodding ‘Tiptoe’ is the first salvo from the album and its searing solo courtesy of Barry will have many, myself included, reaching for this release. ‘Wastin’ Time’ and its heavy Zeppelin groove impress. As does the Slash underpinning of ‘Fine Line’ and the blues-drenched nailed on freight-train ‘I’m Done’. “You’re the best crowd we’ve played to in Bristol!” chuckles Ezegelian; they’re impressed, we’re impressed.
SWX is pulsating to the Eurodance beats of ‘The Vengabus’ as the four rascally components that comprise Punk Rock Factory take up battle stations for the coming ninety minutes of delightfully co-ordinated chaos. Frontman Peej, with a quickfire “What the fuck is going on Bristol?”, is straight on to the barrier, readily engaging with an adoring front row, to deliver a punchy ‘Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ winched out of 1994’s Disney smash Lion King and dropped from a vertiginous height. Landing cranium-first it’s upon the receiving end of a strongarm punked re-working that’s unique in its approach and brash in its unashamedness.
PRF are without pretentions, and this is why their particular niche derives so much pleasure. They’re the Blink 182 to The Buzzcocks, the Dirty Sanchez to the Jackass and all the more relatable for it. They pound through a rampaging metalliferous ‘Mamma Mia’ before careering into ‘Power Rangers’ in rumbustious manner. Go, go!
The trawl through Disney continues apace with Little Mermaid’s ‘Under The Sea’ ratcheted up to the max and courted in thrashy realms that are underlined with a rasping buzz sawing. Mainstream TV isn’t immune either with ‘Thundercats’ and ‘Bluey’ detonating voraciously. Here are four talents combining to extract a high-grade punk vein to great success.
Shredding guitarist Ryan ‘steals’ a couple of mobiles during ‘You’re Welcome’ taking them upon a venue walkabout filming as he headed off to the bar much to the bemusement of the bands tour crew. One of whom was overheard in front of us “I fucking lost him!” as mobiles are returned from the stage. Utter mayhem PRF style!
Encanto’s ‘Surface Pressure’ rockets into orbit receiving a loud, raucous cheer. “We’re gonna take it down a bit” notes Peej furthering “Well we’re gonna make it more ridiculous!” The promise is well and truly kept as ‘Spongebob’ elicits a ‘WTF’ moment on a personal level. Such are the shock and surprise elements of PRF’s amusing onslaught.
A couple of inflatable surfboards seek volunteers of which there’s a plentiful amount offering their services. To the ‘Jackass’ theme tune one ‘competitor’, a blue-haired lad, impressively achieves a full lap of the venue. “It’s night one and you’ve set the bar so high” notes a clearly impressed Peej. For those of a certain generation it’s akin to It’s A Knockout on steroids. Full kudos on all fronts!
The fermenting frenzy boils up further with ‘Chipmunks’ and ‘Pokemon’ themes upended in a punk metal fusion; there’s high levels of kinetic on show tonight! You’d have to be some sort of luddite to not be swept along in the maelstromic forces. ‘Paw Patrol’ is inserted, quite deliciously in between anarchic outings of ‘Running Up That Hill’ and ‘You’re The Voice’.
Quite what Bush and Farnham’s opinions are is unclear but there’s 1500 people inside SWX having their best night and that’s the most important thing! During the former a member of the crowd is lifted over the barrier suffering a medical incident. Swift intervention by the professional security team alongside the band halting mid-track enable the situation to be dealt with. Full marks all around.
The band vigorously feed off this upping the ante with some audience voting to choose the next tune as the stage is transformed into the Countdown set. Replete with glamourous assistance (ok a roadie in a wig – but oh what a wig!) that choice is ‘Gummy Bears’, Crikey that’s a swerve ball even for these four rapscallions!
Gravity is defied but we all know we’ll be back, 100% guaranteed. Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ is resplendent punked up and each word is sung with pinpoint precision. Returning to Disney realms to plunder ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ and ‘Let It Go’; Walt’s legacy lives on stronger than ever, though probably not quite as the great man might have imagined! It’s raw, it’s bleeding and fodder of pop-punk perfection.
The encore of the Four Seasons’ ‘Oh What A Night’ and ‘How Far I’ll Go’, from Moana, is the perfect ending and, indeed summary of the evening. It has been one heck of a night and with fun aplenty we’ve been served a demonstration of how far these four fun-loving gents will go. My feeling is there’s much more pandemonium in reserve with the hugely ambitious ‘Stick To The Covers’ tour announced for October / November 2024.
Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM