Although a little too indistinguishable at times, Punk Rock Factory ultimately provide a great night of nostalgic music and comedy.
On a wet Wednesday (November 1st) night, Southampton were treated to a gig from Welsh pop-punk covers band Punk Rock Factory in support of their new musical theatre-based album ‘It’s Just a Stage We’re Going Through’. Putting a rock spin on everything from Disney to Pat Sharp’s ‘Fun House’, the TikTok-viral stars provided a raucous evening of nostalgia.
But first saw New York’s similarly internet-hype fuelled band AMH (Adam and the Metal Hawks) take to the stage. Led by perhaps one of the finest rock frontmen yet to play arenas in Adam Ezegelian, his soulful voice mixed with an infectious personality was the perfect way to get the crowd hyped. With a mix of originals and covers of Queen and Donna Summer, they’re hardly the most original band around, with most of their music sounding like it’s been ripped directlyfrom a late 70’s AC/DC album. However, like Punk Rock Factory, providing a sense of nostalgia for the old days of rock in the mainstream seems to be their goal. With that in mind, they achieve it far better than some of the other faceless ‘New Wave of Classic Rock’ bands around.
Opening with a pre-recorded audio sketch of frontman/guitarist Peej Edwards being late to the show, it’s immediately clear that Punk Rock Factory are more than just a standard covers band that can be seen in any pub across the country. Most songs open with an anecdote or pun which, while sometimes does interrupt the flow (particularly when a few short songs are played successively), is exactly what you’re paying for at a Punk Rock Factory show. These kinds of interactions are their bread and butter, perhaps to be expected from such a social media-heavy band. Not only did they provide brief jokes, stories and sketches, but also a mini gameshow which saw fans vote for the next song to be performed (the winner was the theme to the ‘Adventures of the Gummi Bears’) while one fan won £100 worth of merch.
With such a mix of ages present, not every song goes down an immediate storm. While opener ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’ from Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ has the entire crowd singing along, the 80’s intro theme to the ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ cartoon is perhaps a little too dated even for the show’s majority millennial audience. While not entirely the band’s fault, at times the crowd were singing along to a different melody to PRF’s punk version, leading to them often giving up by the time the final choruses came around to classic such as John Farnham’s ‘You’re the Voice’ and ‘Under the Sea’ from ‘The Little Mermaid’.
The ‘Pokemon’ theme was also a big hit with the crowd, with guest vocals from AMH’s Adam possibly outshining those of Peej’s. However, with a 90-minute runtime, the novelty did begin to wear off fairly quickly, with the band’s fairly basic chord structures (perhaps that’s the “factory” element of their name) making several songs sound fairly indistinguishable by the end – particularly as Peej’s vocals often sounded muted underneath the guitars. The band’s musical theatre covers from their recent album ‘It’s Just a Stage We’re Going Through’ also made a much-needed change at times, songs which aren’t covered as much as the likes of ‘Dancing Queen’, but with just a couple of them on the setlist it would’ve been nice to hear some more for a tour branded around the album.
However,ultimately Punk Rock Factory do exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a load of punk rock covers of some classic pop, stage, Disney and TV theme songs. If that sounds good to you, it’s almost certainly worth buying a ticket. It’s not high art… but does it have to be? Absolutely not. The band have a laugh with it, and so should you – all while providing a great energy for a midweek gig.
Punk Rock Factory are back on the road in 2024 with their ‘Stick to the Covers’ tour, tickets can be purchased here.