Mexicali, Teatro del Estado, 11 March 2006
This was the third and last time I saw the reformed Hatfield, and no doubt the farthest I travelled to hear them. Baja Prog was a great prog rock festival that was organized by the keyboard player and leader of the Mexican prog band Cast, Alfonso Vidales, in his home city of Mexicali in Baja California, just South of the US/Mexican border. I’d already been to the 2004, on account of SoftWorks performing what would turn out to be their last-ever gig there, and for both visits I have to thank Leonardo Pavkovic, who managed both bands and was also responsible for bringing a lot of reformed heritage prog bands, many from Italy, to the festival. Hatfield and the North wasn’t the only veteran band on the bill that year, I also got to see the likes of Nektar, England, Trettioariga Kriget, SBB and Mirthrandir, as well as contemporary bands like Marillion, the Flower Kings, Lazuli and Mostly Autumn.
This took place just weeks after Elton Dean’s sad passing, and a version of Alex’s “Psychic Warrior” with Richard singing lyrics written by Pip in memory of his old friend is an emotional highlight of the performance (especially poignant, of course, in retrospect, as Pip himself would pass away within half a year) and the only ‘new’ song in the set. I found this a good gig, as the previous time I’d seen them was in June 2005 when Pip’s back issues had resulted in them performing with Mark Fletcher as second drummer. This isn’t to say Pip was in great form – this time it was one of his feet that hurt, and he often had to use a crutch. Despite this the band delivered a solid performance, and I’m happy to have seen Hatfield somewhere near their peak in this incarnation. This features most of the old favourites (not counting, of course, the Dave Stewart-penned tunes which, other than the brief “Going Up To People…”, they elected not to play), including “The Yes-No Interlude” in its new guise as “Take Your Pick”, bookended by new music written by Pip for his band Bash.
This is my own recording, captured from the audience at the 1,500-seater Teatro del Estado, which was the main venue for the festival, with other shows taking place in the gardens of the Araiza Inn, the hotel where most of us were staying.
Phil Miller – guitar
Richard Sinclair – bass, vocals
Pip Pyle – drums
Alex Maguire – keyboards