“Was sich liebt das quält sich”

Self-proclaimed Yes-fanatic Alex Driessen reveals that the unconditional love for his ‘club’ does not necessarily lead to positive reviews…

I have previously proclaimed my love for English prog legends Yes on these pages. The virus struck as early as 1973, when I came into possession of the triple live album Yessongs as a high school student. I played it until it wore out, the scratch during the acoustic Mood for A Day I took for granted. In later versions of that song I even started to miss that scratch, I kid you not. I witnessed the first real big show during the Going for the One tour in 1977. True magic happened in a packed Ahoy theatre in Rotterdam on a cold November night. I had happily waited in line for several hours for tickets outside one of the ticket offices, a local newspaper building. Well, the rest is history. Almost fifty years after that memorable introduction to the band, the long-awaited new studio album has finally been released.

And I will tell you this: I’ve been waiting for the new work with trepidation, more than ever. Because, let’s face it, Steve Howe and friends’ penultimate album didn’t exactly excel through brilliance. In fact, as a huge addict who once blindly purchased the latest release of the legendary band, I could easily rank Heaven and Earth among the “worst ever”. When I had the opportunity to interview Steve Howe a few years ago, I couldn’t help but ask him about it. He muttered something cryptic in the vein of “with Yes we learn and then we forget just as quickly”, from which I deduced that he wasn’t too happy about it himself.

Anyway, I seem to be quite critical when it comes to my all-time favourite band: I’ve been extremely strict about the choice of attire and stage behaviour of the late Chris Squire – old men in tights, so not done. I was not pleased with the performance of ‘Grumpy’ Steve Howe who, due to technical problems, showed his worst side during a show in Utrecht. Moreover, I thought Alan White had become a pathetic old man, and I’m definitely not a fan of Billy Sherwood’s over-produced songs (that horrible autotune!). Don’t even bother mentioning Geoffrey Downes’ abilities. And I lashed out mercilessly when another Yes-split released new material (Arc of Life). No, I have certainly not been kind to these guys, despite my undying love for the band and its music as a whole. Apparently the (German) adage ‘was sich lieb das quält sich’ freely translated ‘what loves each other hurts each other’, or the quarrel between lovers, also applies to me in relation to my idols.

It’s like being a Sunderland supporter, you’re not just in it for fun (according to documentary Sunderland till I die). You know you’re going to be disappointed, while you keep hoping for better days, preferably a championship, which only comes once every umpteen years. But your love for the club remains unconditional.

You can read my verdict on the new album on the site, suffice to say that I am not overly enthusiastic. Pity, because chances for a sequel are getting smaller by the day. Hopefully the band will once again show its best side during scheduled shows in Utrecht (Holland) and Leuven (Belgium) next year. I will be there once again, logically, as I have never missed out on a single performance by the living legends in the Netherlands between 1977 and the current day. They will forever remain my ‘club’, no matter what.

You can read Alex’s review of the newly released Yes album The Quest HERE.