When the sun was setting over the former Air Force base in the upstate town of Plattsburgh, New York, on August 16, 1996 guitarist Trey Anastasio signaled the band to stop playing to look at The Divided Sky they were singing about. Phish was in the midst of the first of the festivals the Vermont quartet would stage over the years. Playing six sets over two days and a Flatbed Jam in the middle of the night, it was the first time the band faced ten thousands of fans camping out. They were out in the open before the world for the very first time, after being a slowly growing word-of-mouth live act for more than a decade.
The proceedings were filmed at the time and a special called The Clifford Ball; a beacon of light in the world of flight was aired on tv, but that was it. Until now. The lavishly packaged 7DVD boxset cotnians nine hours of footage - three discs for each day and a bonus disc with behind the scenes stuff, the soundcheck and the complete, eerie Flatbed Jam.
The sound production is really good - the 5.1 surround is crisp and the stereo spread is a breeze. In later years fans of the band would spread the word about the second set of Day 2 and rightly so, but start with the intimate setup for Waste, Talk, Train Song, Strange Design, Hello My Baby of Day 1. Here they are playing completely at ease, never mind the thousands looking at them in the dark.
Pity it wasn't filmed 16:9 at the time, but you can't win 'em all. Phish have released the ultimate live DVD box set so far, with an informative booklet, postcards and stamps included.
The Clifford Ball is released on JEMPs Records/Rhino.
|Disc 1 (Day 1 (8/16/1996) – Set One)
||Disc 2 (Day 1 (8/16/1996) – Set Two)
|Disc 3 (Day 1 (8/16/1996) – Set Three)
||Disc 4 (Day 2 (8/17/1996) – Set One)
|Disc 5 (Day 2 (8/17/1996) – Set Two)
||Disc 6 (Day 2 (8/17/1996) – Set Three)
|Disc 7 (Bonus)