Chapter 13: The Final Chapter – Saving the Best for Last
The next day after the boat docked in Riga, everyone went sightseeing around the beatutiful ancient parts of the city before returning to the boat to sound check and prepare for their evening’s performance.
Cressida took to the main Melloboat stage on Saturday evening in a packed room, their set delayed due to the sound and lighting engineers getting confused by the one-hour time difference between Sweden and Latvia and going off for a sauna! Finally, the waiting was over.
For the next hour the band performed at their peak, running through a setlist of some of their best-loved songs: Survivor, Lights In My Mind, Depression, Down Down, Winter is Coming Again, Play Your Little Game, Munich, The Only Earthman in Town, Let Them Come When They Will and Tomorrow is a Whole New Day.
At the end of their performance the band received a standing ovation. Applause and shouts for more reverberated around the packed room. It had been a triumph!
After the show, the band gathered to meet their fans and sign autographs. The queue to meet the band snaked around the room and out along the corridor below deck. The band met with fans, posed for photographs and signed CDs, albums and T-shirts.
In their first incarnation decades previously Cressida never received such a response from an audience. Many fans took to Facebook to leave their comments on the performance.
In the audience at Melloboat was Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth, fullfilling a long-held wish to meet and see the band that had influenced his writing for Opeth, perform live for the very first time. He later penned his thoughts on finally seeing one of his favourite bands after so many years.
“You were amazing and I think new fans were as gobsmacked as the old ones. I had full belief in your absolute domination up there in the limelight, but you exceeded my expectations even. Like I said, friends of mine were crying when you played. It was quite moving! Having now seen you live I have to say it’d be a terrible shame if you didn’t continue playing. I’ve seen so many bands in my days but the withdrawn authority of you guys up there in combination with the fucking perfect performance had a profound effect on me and on everyone in that room. You nailed the vibe of those early songs and everyone’s on top of their game still.” Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth
Iain: “Sadly, it was to be our last performance but an amazing experience! The audience was so receptive and judging from their applause at the opening notes of almost every song, quite familiar with Cressida’s music. Afterwards we were totally overwhelmed by the numbers of people who queued patiently for autographs and to say “thank you” for coming and playing. It really was something that none of us will ever forget.”
And so they departed Melloboat and returned to the UK, having performed for the last time as Cressida.
At London Heathrow, the band said their goodbyes and embraced one another before flying back to their homes and returning to their normal lives, knowing the performance they had given probably marked the final chapter in the remarkable story of Cressida … and so it has proved.
The brief and unexpected reunion of a previously little-known band after a gap of four decades and the remarkable warmth and appreciation shown by old and new fans alike was an extraordinary experience for all concerned.
The reaction to the band’s appearances second time around after an absence of 40 years was nothing short of astonishing and unlike anything they had ever experienced before.
Such an amazing turn of events was both a joyful and humbling experience for the original band members, and a validation of Cressida’s standing as pioneers of early British progressive rock.
To quote Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, “What a long strange trip it’s been”
We’ll leave the final words on the story of Cressida to Olav Wyper, the Founder and Managing Director of Vertigo Records who signed the band to the now legendary label 50 years ago…..