At the end of November 2011 the band members came together again in Scotland for a final few days of rehearsals before flying to London for the Reunion Gig at the Underworld. During the intervening period between the rehearsals in September and these final rehearsals, the band's proposed set list had been finalised so each member knew what songs were to be performed. It was also decided that the band should stick as close as possible to the original arrangements on the records.
The Cressida Story
"...... Cressida astounded fans and critics alike when they staged a sensational 'come back' show "
The rehearsals went well and the band began to gel quickly. However, as the band hadn't played together in front of an audience for over 40 years it was decided it might be a good idea to do a low-key warm-up gig somewhere nearby before London to blow off the cob-webs! So, on a quiet Tuesday evening at the end of November the band turned up at Blackfriars Highland Pub, a well-known live-music venue in Inverness and took to the stage for a run-through of their set. Despite plans to keep it fairly low key, a few posters were put up around the city and the word had soon got around.... the small venue was packed. A couple of the band's most diehard fans given a tip-off drove three hours north from Glasgow to attend the gig. They were life long fans of the band's albums but had never seen them perform live. They knew the potential to have their expectations dashed was huge.
Although understandably somewhat nervous before they started, the band quickly got into their stride and blasted through an hour and a half set of songs from their two albums. The guys played with passion and determination, shaking off their years apart and confounding those in the audience unprepared for the sheer energy and musicianship the band displayed. At the end they received a standing ovation from the crowd.
On Thursday 1st December the band and road crew travelled to London for the Reunion Gig. The night before they left they received an email asking if they wanted to a short set at another venue in London on the Saturday night. The band agreed.
On the Friday afternoon, the hired drums and back-line gear arrived at the venue and after setting up the band sound-checked. A quick meal and the band were ready to go.
After a brief introduction and an overture on the keyboards, the band launched into 'Survivor' and then without a pause moved straight into 'Only Earthman In Town'. The opening bars of each song drew loud applause from those who recognised every number from their legendary albums. And at the end of each number the crowd showed its appreciation with rapturous applause
The running order and set list was
'Only Earthman In Town',
'Winter is Coming Again',
'One of A Group',
'Lights In My Mind',
'Something I Said',
'Wind In The Night',
'To Play Your Little Game',
'Let Them Come When They Will'.
At the end, the band received a standing ovation. Demanding an encore, the crowd chanted and stomped their feet until finally the band returned to play one more number - 'Tomorrow Is A Whole New Day' and take a final bow. Without a doubt the show had been a genuine triumph.
Ian Shirley of Record Collector Magazine got up onstage after the encore and made the surprise announcement that Cressida would be playing the following night at the Forum, Kentish Town. The crowd slowly departed and made their way to the bars upstairs where the band later joined them to meet and sign autographs.
As renowned music journalist, Chris Welch described it, "UK’s legendary Prog Rock band Cressida astounded fans and critics alike when they staged a sensational 'come back’ show ........ with no messing, the sound of the long lost band restored our faith in Progressive Rock as a genre."
The band went through a wide repertoire of their best known numbers that displayed the gamut of not only their musical talents but their musical influences drawn from rock, jazz, classical and folk. From Angus' solo acoustic song, 'Spring 69' through to Peter's intricate arrangements and stunning Hammond solos in 'Munich' and 'Lisa' and an extended jazz-funk version of the late John Heyworth's extended 'Let Them Come When They Will'. Their fans were not disappointed.
The following night the band played a short 30 minute set supporting Cathedral at their Farewell Gig. For the 2,000 Cathdral fans crowded into the HMV Forum in Kentish Town, Cressida's unbilled appearance was a surprise. As one fan later put it in an email, "I was standing there rubbbng my eyes in disbelief that there, right there on stage before me was Cressida, one of my all-time favourite bands. I had no idea you would be playing and didn't even know about the Underworld gig the night before. What an unbelievable surprise. Thank you so much. You were great!"
Cressida performing at the Forum, London. Sat Dec 3rd 2011
And whilst everyone thought that the London Reunion was the final chapter, they were wrong! In 2013 the band were invited to play at Melloboat in Sweden.... and that's another chapter!
To read the reviews of the Reunion Gigs click Here
After they finished their set the band relaxed and mingled with the audience, signing autographs and album sleeves. Delighted and amazed at the audience's response, they felt they were now ready for London.
Here's what one Glasgow fan from Glasgow said about the gig....
Show time was at 8.30pm, by which time the club was full. Some in the audience at travelled half way round the world, from as far away as Japan and Brazil, to see for the first and possibly only time one of their favourite band's performing live again.
Probably less than a handful of people present in the Underworld had seen Cressida back in 1969-70. This was a new audience, of all ages, with many young people who hadn't even been born when the band first played together. An air of nervous excitement and anticipation could be felt through the crowd, before the band stepped on stage to a warm and generous welcome. After months of anticipation Cressida were finally back on stage together in London!
And so 40 years after they broke up, Cressida had reunited and played three gigs in five days. At the end of an extraordinary weekend the band members embraced one another and went their separate ways.... to the north of Scotland, to France, to London and to California. They took with them some amazing memories and an enormous sense of satisfaction knowing that they had achieved something rather special!
For Part 6 of the Story: The Melloboat Festival Click Here