Chapter 10: Making Plans
News of the discovery of the lost tapes and the band meeting up again after all these years had been posted on the band’s recently created Facebook page, prompting excited fans to ask whether there was a possibility of a reunion gig. At the same time, the success at the recent musical collaboration had led to a growing realisation that a reunion gig was not totally out of the question although some still considered the idea was not without risk.
So, with the encouragement and practical support of Ian Shirley at Record Collector and Damian Jones and Rob Henson in London, plans for Cressida to reunite and perform once more began to formulate. London was the obvious place to do it, and The Underworld in Camden Town was chosen as the venue for Cressida’s first gig in over 40 years. The date was set for Friday 2nd December 2011. The announcement was made on Facebook and tickets immediately began to sell to fans from as far afield as France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Finland, the UAE, Japan and Brazil.
Mikael Akerfeldt got in touch to say how disappointed he was at not being able to attend the London reunion as he was on tour with his band, but he did promote the event on Opeth’s web page, introducing Cressida to all Opeth’s fans. Just before the London gig, Opeth were performing in Edinburgh and Mikael invited Iain to be his guest, which Iain was delighted to accept.
In the period following the decision to play a reunion gig there was much to plan and prepare. Having an enjoyable music get-together in private was one thing, embarking on a well-publicised ‘official’ reunion gig in London, quite another.
Everyone agreed for the need to get together immediately in advance of the gig, so at the end of November 2011 the band members met again in Scotland for intense rehearsals. The final rehearsals went well, with the band agreeing to stick to the arrangements of the original recorded songs.
However, as the band hadn’t played together in front of an audience for decades, it was decided it would be a good idea to play a local warm-up gig before heading down to London. A warm-up gig was arranged at a small but well-known live music venue in Inverness, Blackfriars. Tuesday 29th November was the date when the band took to the stage for what they thought would be a low-key run-through of their set. Except it wan’t so low-key!
A few posters had been put up around the city and word soon got around: the venue was packed. A couple of the band’s most diehard fans had been tipped off and had driven three hours north from Glasgow to attend the gig. They were lifelong fans of the band’s albums but had never seen them perform live, and they knew the potential to have their expectations dashed was huge.
Kevin: “Before we started, Iain took the mic and explained a bit about the background to this gig which helped a lot, as we knew that many in the audience would have no idea who we were.”
Although understandably nervous before they started, the band quickly got into their stride and blasted through a 90-minute set of songs from their two albums. The guys played with passion and determination, their energy and musicianship undimmed by the passage of time. At the end they received a standing ovation.
After they finished their set the band 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 of the Glasgow fans posted about the gig the next day on Facebook:
“Looking round at the assembled audience of mostly Inverness locals, who had no idea what this was going to be like, it was clear that most of them were completely gobsmacked. Some have heard Roger and Iain playing in their blues band before, but it was clear that nobody was expecting anything like this. Many wouldn’t have heard any prog rock before or had only heard the kind of prog that gave the genre a bad name. This was a performance to convert the sceptics.
The band declared themselves nervous before they started, but with the fantastic audience response they got, they will arrive in Camden Town on Friday knowing that they have already played a great set this week and with that confidence, the heightened sense of occasion, and a bigger audience, I believe we’ll see an even better set than last night, when they made a tiny corner of Scotland forever Cressida.” Bob Leiser, Glasgow.