PUNK ROCK FACTORY + ADAM AND THE METAL HAWKS – CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON 25.10.23
Firstly, let’s address the enigma that is Punk Rock Factory. Do they play Punk Rock? – answer yes –. Do They Play Heavy Metal – Yes. Do they Play Punk or Heavy Metal songs – err, well no. Are they a covers band – well yes, but with a difference. To quote the old 1970’s TV show ‘Soap’, “These questions—and many others—will be answered in the next episode of …”. Swap episode for review and let’s get going. But beware…these guys are great musicians, they have to be to do what they do, but that doesn’t mean they entirely take themselves seriously. In fact, quite the opposite.
This is a band who started out over lockdown and subsequently their output was digitally focused. However, they now have over 15 million streams on Spotify and 40 million views on TikTok, so it is fair to say that their reputation has grown immensely. Now they are out in the live environment and the sold-out status of this show and the majority of their tour pays testament to their popularity. What is critical to note however is despite the name this band are very comfortable transcending genres. Nothing is sacred in the Punk Rock Factory world and that is how it should be. There is one key theme that runs through every Punk Rock Factory show and that is fun. It is just not possible not to have a good time in the company of these guys. They bring the party to another level, and from the reaction in the Concorde 2 tonight, with the extent of fans singing their heads off and leaping around like loons it is fair to say we more than hit party central.
So how do we approach a Punk Rock Factory show? Well, for a start leave all your inhibitions at home and roll the clock back to your childhood. Then quite simply go with the flow. What you won’t get here is an old style punk show. Yes, the music is played in a punk rock style; think Green Day, Blink 182 etc. But that is where the similarities end. For a start there was no mosh pit, everyone was leaping about and dancing and waving their hands in the air. None of the old skool aggression here which the original 70’s punk shows were on occasion notorious for, just an intention to have a good time and to sing along and yes, I mean that, you will be singing from the first chord until the last one is struck ninety minutes later. There is no let up in the musical barrage, apart from some serious dumbass song introductions, a ‘Countdown’ moment, we’ll get to that later, and probably most attendees tonight will probably have woken up with a sore throat the next morning from bellowing out the lyrics for an hour and a half.
The tour title ‘It’s just a stage we’re going through tour’ reflects their latest album title and the theme of their latest album with a few showtunes being given the Punk Rock Factory treatment.
So, that does bring us to the songs. Let’s not beat around the bush. Punk Rock Factory are a covers band. But not the type of covers band you would see down your local. All the songs aired tonight will have made up a large part of our childhoods and youth, reinvented and brought back to life in a full force barrage of sound. For a start there is the material they choose to sing. Well, second number in was ‘Mamma Mia’, the Abba classic, so pretty much a standard, and the show was intermingled with some great pop tunes, such as John Farnham’s ‘You’re The Voice’, Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ and Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ which was probably not how Kate would have imagined it, but hey, there have been stranger things (!!). So, as it stands, a pretty standard covers set but played in a punk fashion.
But, and of course there’s a big but here (no jokes, oh why not it would fit in with the evening) there is the rest of the set, and that in itself is what the band have developed a blooming career on. Now, if you’re one of those people who will stand at a show with arms crossed and pretend not to know the songs, then this is not the place for you. Actually, in many ways it’s a set for those mums and dads who have had to watch kids TV over the last thirty years. And, it’s these songs(??) that really get the audience engaged. Possibly it’s a form of musical Stockholm Syndrome..
Entering stage to the Vengaboys ‘We Like To Party (The Vengabus)’ they set the standard for the evening, blasting into ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ from the musical, ‘The Lion King’, albeit probably not performed as originally intended. Up next ‘Mamma Mia’, nothing more to be said then and then we really get going, ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’, ‘Thundercats’, ‘Bluey’ and of course ‘Spongebob Square Pants’; with obligatory singing along. Well, that set the standard, so with chipmunk noises introduction we blast into the theme from ‘Alvin And The Chipmunks’.
Then there is the banter. “How do you get Pikachu onto a bus; answer….you Pokémon”, you can cringe but hey we got the TV theme, complete with Adam Ezegelian from support band Adam And The Metal Hawks leaping around the stage like a deranged Jack Black. Just don’t try to imagine it. You had to be there.
Of course this could not be a standard rock show, and we had to have the interactive part where a ‘Countdown’ board was brought on, and lead singer Peej donning a gold lamé jacket, calling to a bearded ‘Rachel Riley’, in the form of bassist Benj placing the letters to spell out set.live, which was an online link to a competition to choose a song to be sung that night and to win £100 worth of merchandise. The winning song was ‘Gummi Bears’. I’m not sure what that says about the audience tonight but hey, who cares, it was just as expected, mad, bad, fast and frenetic and all of about 30 seconds long. But one punter went away happy with a bag load of goodies after.
As the set rolled on we hit more standards, and then as per the beginning a few more showtunes towards the end. ‘Defying Gravity’ from ‘Wicked’, ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ from ‘The Lion King’ and another singalong to ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ from ‘Encanto’. Did I say another singalong? Actually, the singing hadn’t stopped, it had just ratcheted up another level. Then somehow, we’re at the last song of the set. “You’ll all know this” the band proclaim. Out come the phones with lights on for an animated and seriously lit up ‘Let It Go’ from ‘Frozen’. It’s fair to say that Amanda Holden who had proclaimed this on BGT a few years ago as one of her favourite songs probably would not have been impressed. But a sold-out Concorde 2 more than certainly was.
With barely time for a breath, let alone a swig of water or beer they were back with the old Frankie Valli standard ‘December 1963 (Oh What A Night)’ before one blast of ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from ‘Moana’ and it was over. Ninety minutes of pure unadulterated, madness, laughter, singalongs, good times, laughing and leaping around with new friends just made that night. Anyone walking past the Concorde 2 would have wondered what had happened in there as everyone seemed to leave with an absolutely bonkers grin on their face and singing along to their own youthful reminiscence.
So, what else can we learn from this show? Firstly, if you think that Punk isn’t your thing then think again. It doesn’t matter what your musical taste is, any sense of taste is left at the door on entry, to be replaced by old-fashioned good time fun.
Secondly be warned, there is a sausage theme that runs through the band’s output with ‘Wurst’ being used as a play on words. Are they the Wurst band on the planet? ………Probably…
Then, perhaps we should suggest that Punk Rock Factory represent the UK in next year’s Eurovision, we could do a lot “Wurst”. Okay I’ll stop there.
Finally, and a date for your diaries, the band have already announced 2024 dates and are out on the road for most of next year, with that UK tour already selling fast. They’ll be back in Brighton at the Chalk on 20th November 2024. It might be over a year away but get your tickets now or you’re going to miss out again. Purchase your tickets HERE.
Punk Rock Factory:
Peej Edwards – vocals, guitar
Benj Allison – bass, vocals
Ryan Steadman – lead guitar
Andrew ‘Kob’ Robinson – drums, vocals
Punk Rock Factory setlist:
‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ (from ‘The Lion King’)
‘Mamma Mia’ (ABBA cover)
‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ (Ron Wasserman cover)
‘Under The Sea’ (Samuel E. Wright cover from ‘The Little Mermaid’)
‘Thundercats’ (TV Theme)
‘Bluey’ (TV Theme)
‘You’re Welcome’ (Dwayne Johnson cover, from ‘Moana’)
‘SpongeBob SquarePants Theme’ (Painty The Pirate & Kids cover)
‘Alvin And The Chipmunks’ (TV Theme)
‘Pokémon Theme’ (Jason Paige cover)
‘Running Up That Hill’ (Kate Bush cover)
‘Paw Patrol’ (TV Theme)
‘You’re The Voice’ (John Farnham cover)
‘Gummi Bears’ (TV Theme)
‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ (from ‘The Little Mermaid’)
‘You’ll Be Back’ (Jonathan Groff cover from ‘Hamilton’)
‘Defying Gravity’ (from ‘Wicked’)
‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ (Elton John cover from ‘The Lion King’)
‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ (Lin‐Manuel Miranda cover from ‘Encanto’)
‘Let It Go’ (Kristen Anderson‐Lopez & Robert Lopez cover from ‘Frozen’)
‘December, 1963 (Oh What a Night!)’ (Frankie Valli Cover)
‘How Far I’ll Go’ (Auliʻi Cravalho cover, from ‘Moana’)
Support to Punk Rock Factory came from Long Island, New York based band Adam And The Metal Hawks, a band that themselves have been steadily developing their career over the last few years, particularly using the internet and social media to gain attention; and attention is what they have received. In fact, it seems that as many of the punters tonight were here to see Adam and the band as much as headliners Punk Rock Factory.
For those not in the know, lead singer Adam Ezegelian auditioned for ‘American Idol’ back in 2015. He took his musical influences and in particular his love for classic rock and has the ability to win over people with his crazy but perfectly tuned voice and facial expressions. Adam joined the Metal Hawks in early 2019. The band released their self-titled debut E.P. in 2020, and became a viral social media sensation in 2021, just as Covid hit. Now they are here on tour and celebrating the release of their second full length album, ‘Hurry Up And Wait’.
So to the performance and what they did do was produce the perfect support slot for the night. Walking on stage to a steady chordal thrum the band blasted into the ‘Time Warp’. Probably if Brighton has an anthem then this is it and quite simply the audience lapped it up. From that moment they could do no wrong.
The set was a mixture of their own material interspersed with some covers, which Adam admitted had been done to fit in with the theme of the night. From my perspective if they had played forty five minutes of their own material they could have done no wrong as their own material is to an incredibly high standard. That said their performance was extremely well received by a substantially packed Concorde 2. There are times that I have watched support acts struggle to twenty five people here, but that was not the case tonight with the room packed out from the start.
‘Tiptoe’ was a hard driving tune from their latest album and has a real dirty blues rock feel to it, a tune that could easily have been written by Aerosmith such is the groove to it and unsurprisingly an act that has been a big influence on the band.
Next up was ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. As Adam said “we couldn’t come to the UK and not play some Queen” and unsurprisingly the audience were more than happy to sing along with the band on this one. Certainly they were warming up vocals for that which was to come later.
It was at this point we got to get a feel for what the band could really be with them introducing ‘Backwards’; from the new album and then ‘Strain’ from their previous E.P. as back to back self written material. This is where the band showed their true calibre and their musicianship. Because of the ‘American Idol’ history a lot has been made of Adams’ voice and it cannot be dismissed. He is the consummate frontman, working the crowd non-stop, and his voice underlines the entertainment value that he brings to his stage presence, at times gentle and note perfect at the next screaming a la Axl Rose. He has the perfect rock voice and this was clearly recognised previously and is why he is the perfect frontman. Yet this is not a one man show and the rest of the band cannot be dismissed lightly. From the hard driving rhythm section of Ryan Daversa on bass and Griffin McCarthy on drums the real dirty, gritty rock and roll backroom is laid down for Johnny Barry to shred over; and trust me this guy can play, putting his own solo flourishes and touches to ‘Sweet Child ‘O’ Mine’.
‘Fine Line’ from their latest album is another slice of perfect old skool rock ‘n’ roll with a catchy riff driving through the tune and provides Johnny another opportunity to showcase his dexterity. This is a guy who can shred but can also clearly provide the right level of tuneful and melodic guitar work when called for.
Announcing they are going to get funky they drop the Donna Summer cover ‘Hot Stuff’, although giving it a serious rock work out before closing the set with the bluesy boogie rock of ‘I’m Done’ featuring Adam on harmonica, not only showcasing Griffin’s ability to move to song to a lightyear speed level on drums.
By the time they’d finished their set the walls of the C2 were dripping with sweat as the audience clearly were getting down with the band and the bluesy rock groove they brought to Brighton tonight. This was a triumph and the length of the queues at the merch desk after the set and at the end of the show bore testament to the success of this evening. Hopefully they’ll be gracing our shores again soon, perhaps headlining some shows of their own and proving that not only do they have the chops and the songs but the ability to more than hold their own as part of a driving force of new up and coming US classic Rock bands.
Adam And The Metal Hawks:
Adam Ezegelian – vocals
Johnny Barry – guitar
Ryan Daversa – bass
Griffin McCarthy – drums
Adam And The Metal Hawks setlist:
‘Time Warp’ (Cover from ‘Rocky Horror’)
‘Tiptoe’ (from ‘Hurry Up And Wait’)
‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ (Queen cover)
‘Backwards’ (from ‘Hurry Up And Wait’)
‘Strain’ (from self-titled E.P.)
‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ (Guns ‘N’ Roses cover)
‘Fine Line’ (from ‘Hurry Up And Wait’)
‘Hot Stuff’ (Donna Summer Cover)
‘I’m Done’ (from ‘Hurry Up And Wait’)