July11-13, 2003. The Embankment, Peterborough Click on pics to see them bigger
Electric Eel Shock whipping up a storm on the main stage
The only way to get warm was in the pub
The Willow arena, Saturday afternoon. About as busy as it got... Akihito plays a mean Flying V Kazuto bassing for all he 's worth Double peace off!
Willow is an odd sort of affair, favouring quantity over quality. So, the festival sees over 100 bands that normally play pubs appearing on six stagesin the heart of Peterborough. This year, the headliners were the Animals - at least, those that aren't dead yet... As is normal at the Willow, all bands get 40 minutes and the headliners go on at about 4pm on Sunday afternoon. No line-up logic in evidence here! plus, you have the added attraction of fairground rides easily capable of drowning out the main stage bands.

This year, however, the music-lovers of Peterborough were in for a treat. Dan called me to say that Electric Eel Shock were playing. He'd seen them in London a couple of weeks earlier and been blown away, so made the trek north to catch them at Willow. They weren't helped by a tea-time slot on Friday, but put on a stupendous show. Imagine, if you can, a punk Led Zeppelin (as opposed to a hippy one). Short, sharp songs and a drummer wearing nothing but a strategically-placed sock. Plus, pointing and climbing from bassist Kazuto - always a good thing in a rock band, according to NWOBHM veteran Dan.

After the show (watched by all of 40 people, sadly) we had a chat with the band and their manager. they were camping and had no rider. It was getting cold, so we invited them down the pub and had a cracking night out. Top people - if you see them, buy them a drink.

Saturday was warmer, but the best band of the festival had been and gone, so we settled down to some gentle drinking to ease out of the hangovers caused by boozing with the Eel Shock guys. Then we wandered off to see the appalingly-named Torsohorse - all satanic make up and the promise of being a "three-headed speed-metal monolith." They turned out to be not half as bad as that sounds.

Sunday was notable only for Seven Foot Monster and their spirited punk covers which are always worth hearing.

Really, Willow needs to get into the 21st century and take a good look at who it's booking to play and why. Essentially, it's a day out for families with some music in the background. Everyone sits in the middle of the field not really watching the bands. But at least it's free. And the bar's cheap...
Torsohorse playing a spirited set. Saturday brought them a decent turn-out: perhaps 100 people.
this bloke was metal detecting. Sadly for him, Electric Eel Shock had finished playing. Note lack of crowds Flying dreads from Torsohorse bassist
Good things about Willow 2003
• Electric Eel Shock
• Sunshine
• Lager
• It was free

Bad things about Willow 2003
• Far too many pub bands
• Random billing policy

Best bands of Willow 2003
• Electric Eel Shock
• Torsohorse
• Seven Foot monster

Quotes of Willow 2003
"Sex, drugs and e-mail!" Electric Eel Shock's Akihito
"Double peace off"

For more on the mighty Electric Eel Shock, see www.electriceelshock.com