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Midwest shows – Aug/Sep 2001

Cheap Trick’s continuing summer tour had taken them back to the Midwest from the West Coast, so after 4 weeks back at home and work, my summer tour followed theirs as I set out to catch what might be my last CT shows of the year. After finally seeing my first ever County Fair shows just a few weeks ago (in California), I was scheduled to see 4 Fair shows in 8 days in the Midwest.

Friday 24 August

Following a poor night’s sleep, I set out from home at 7am, on my latest long journey. A short bus ride into Leeds, followed by two trains and 4 hours to London’s Gatwick Airport (30 miles south of the capital). Then a long 7 hour flight on Northworst to Detroit. The flight was pretty full, and it was good that I had an aisle seat as the woman in front had her seat reclining back all through the flight, and the man next to me sprawled. One of the movies was "Spy Kids" which been on one of my flights in July, so all in all I was glad to finally get to the Motor City. I’d taken on board a personal CD player, and listened to parts of a few CD’s in-flight, but I had a craving to hear "Music for Hangovers"… which of course I didn’t bring. Hmm, maybe I’d have to buy a $5 copy at one of the shows – it would be my 5th or 6th copy, but who’s counting? :-)

After the long wait in the immigration lines, I had a fairly short wait for the flight into O’Hare… at which point my usual travel curse kicked in. Boarded the plane at 6.45pm, but a technical fault caused us not to take off until 90 minutes later. So after eventually arriving at O’Hare, I’d missed two coaches north to Rockford and Wisconsin, and was lucky to catch the 9pm. At least my luggage had arrived in Chicago with me though! Eventually met up with Rhiazann at Rockford and reached destination Madison WI at 11.30pm, nearly 23 hours door to door. Ouch!

Saturday 25 August – Cheap Trick in Weyauwega, Wisconsin

I gather summer in the Midwest can be one of two things – blisteringly hot and humid; or warm, wet and humid. This trip found the latter, and I awoke early in the morning to find a thunderstorm and heavy rain outside. That didn’t bode well for tonights show, at a county fair up in mid Wisconsin. The Weather Channel showed a swathe of stormy rain clouds sweeping north east up through southern and central Wisconsin, with both Madison and Weyauwega (near Appleton & Green Bay) under the path. It was ironic that the rest of the US seemed to have dry and settled weather.

We left Madison at 2pm, and drove through both heavy and light rain for much of our trip north. After a gas and food stop, we reached Weyauwega (pop 1665) at 4.30pm. It looked a small and pretty town, and we quickly found the site of the Waupaca County Fair. It was cloudy but not raining as we parked in an adjoining field and walked over to the small Fair. As is usual, this was a mixture of carnival midway and agricultural show, but we didn’t stop to linger and enjoy the display of ploughing equipment or the cages containing various types of fowl! We headed straight to the grandstand to get in line, and luckily as it later turned out, under cover. Several familiar faces, from the Chicago and Minneapolis areas were already there, and as always, good to meet up. Whilst waiting for the gates to open, the rain came down, and soaked those not under cover.

The venue was a grandstand, which would hold perhaps a thousand. In front of that was something like a 30 ft area in front of the mid-sized stage. It was good that the entire grandstand was roofed, and the roof extended to cover the standing area and the stage. This was a small country horse racing track as the grandstand faced a large area of grassland. Whilst waiting, I had to try that Wisconsin/Minnesota specialty - fried cheese curds, which were surprising good. We got let in at 7.20pm, and made our way into the front of the grandstand, and within moments security started letting us squeeze through the single gate down to the front stage area. The area was mostly dry, though covered in wood chippings to prevent it getting too muddy in case of rain. Security stopped us from standing right up against the stage, so we left a gap of a couple of feet. Interesting to see Robin and Tom’s setlists being stapled, not stuck to the stage.

The band were a little late on stage, having been delayed in Chicago on their way up from Memphis where they’d played last night. However, they hit the stage at 8.40pm, only 40 minutes late. By now the crowd was possibly around a thousand, with a crowd in front of the stage, and the small grandstand maybe 2/3 full.

RN – Silver jacket, red t-shirt, black pants

TP – Long cream leather jacket, cowboy hat, black pants, black turtle neck shirt

RZ – Blue denim jacket, black t-shirt, black pants

Daxx – Black shirt, grey cargo pants

Drone intro, Dream Police, Just Got Back, Give It away, If You Want My Love, Tonight Its You, She’s Tight, Words Can Never say It, Nite Time World, Taxman, Oh Candy, Woke Up With A Monster, I Can’t Take It, Heaven Tonight, Big Eyes, Ballad of TV Violence, Special One, Anytime, I Want You to Want Me, Surrender / Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now

Rick’s amps had the familiar small Rick doll hanging from them… but with its pants down around its ankles! I didn’t realise small dolls like that were apparently made anatomically correct!

I don’t believe that Rick had the venue name taped to the stage, as during his spiel in Dream Police he did the line "They persecute me right here in…<pause>… hey Wisconsin!" Tonight It’s You had a cool long intro, and the arrangement was more uptempo than the original version. Nite Time World saw a false start, prompting Rick to announce "We’re Cheap Trick… that wasn’t a mistake! We plan everything!". During Nite Time World, two of the front stage security guards got their heads together talking (more on them shortly) – Rick stood above them and suggested they were kissing! They didn’t notice! During this song Robin broke a string on his Sea Green Hamer, and at the end Rick remarked in my direction that "we f***ed that up!" (though it sounded fine to me). Cool to hear Taxman as always, one of my favourite songs. Before Heaven Tonight Rick got a young child onto the stage from the front of the crowd, which seems to have become a habit during the past couple of months. Four year old Emily was almost speechless, so Rick ended up giving her a pick. He asked "Do I scare you?" to which she nodded. As she left the stage he remarked "No wonder I can never get a date…!" He also brought on a younger boy from the crowd too, at which time it seemed like every youngster under the age of about 14 was trying to get to the front and into the limelight. During Heaven Tonight Rick handed his guitar to Nance (from Minneapolis), who, from her position in front of his side of the stage had showed Rick her new tattoo – "Cheap Trick" in Japanese near her ankle. The song featured a cool ending by Daxx. The set list said "Speak Now" though the band actually played TV Violence, though Tom did start playing the first notes of Speak Now before Daxx stopped him with a short and sharp drum roll!

The band finished at 10.20pm, and had looked relaxed and having fun. I personally found the front stage (amateur) security annoying, as I heard others did too. The two near me, in front of Rick and Robin barely stopped talking or whispering to each other throughout the show. Much of their communication wasn’t about security matters but were gestures about various women in the crowd, and what they’d like to do to them. They also seemed to watch the show more than they watched the crowd, and one was even told off by one of the techs at the end as he crawled onto the stage to snag picks… not to give to the crowd but putting them in his pockets. Totally unprofessional.

The evening had turned out pleasantly, with a cooling breeze and the rain clearing away. A crowd gathered to see the band drive away, and both Rick and Robin briefly greeted many of the fans. The visit to the Fair was completed by eating funnel cake on the way back to the car, before the drive back down to Madison.

Sunday 26 August

Turned out to be a quiet day, after two very busy ones travelling and going to the show. The highlight was probably watching a couple of live baseball games on TV, something that’s difficult to do back in England.

Monday 27 August

Another non-show day, though fun. We drove over to Milwaukee in afternoon sunshine to meet up with RonPBG. One of the first things we did was get our Alt.Music.Tribute #4 CD’s from him, the latest fan collection. Very cool, and got to hold the socks that adorn the front cover too! Also listened to some CT at his apartment before heading out to take in a quick Italian meal before heading downtown and eventually catching the last tram out to Miller Park, just! The new ballpark was really impressive, and we arrived during the first inning. Had a great evening, sitting high above home plate and watching the Brewers crush Pittsburgh by 12-5 and seeing 5 home runs scored. Gosh, if only some of our soccer grounds could be like this. After the game, quite a crowd stayed to watch the roof gradually close to stirring music, starting with "Thus Spake Zarathrusta, the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey". It took about 6 minutes, but the music was timed to perfection, climaxing as the two halves finally joined together. After leaving Ron we drove back to Madison, an uneventful trip apart from the last couple of miles when the car was literally tailgated and followed by somebody high on something. We took several turns, only to be followed at high speed, up close and swerving, and it was seriously scary. We eventually managed to lose the following car and it was with great relief that we got back to the apartment unharmed.

Tuesday 28 August

A change of plans… We’d planned to drive to Minneapolis tomorrow, for the St Paul show, and back again afterwards. However, we decided that this would probably be too tiring, so we booked a cheap Minn hotel online for tonight, and I also found a State Fair/baseball deal which saved $5 off a combined ticket! That alone was good enough for me (!), so we headed out after lunch from Madison to the Twin Cities. Found our Motel 6 OK, close to the Mall of America and the airport. All I can say is that I’ve stayed in nicer places…but it was cheap and served its purpose. After checking in, we headed back out into the early evening sunshine and drove into downtown Minneapolis. Parked up and walked a few blocks to the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome to watch the evenings Twins v Texas Rangers ballgame. (Do you detect that I’m starting to watch as many ballgames as Cheap Trick shows this summer?? <LOL>)… It seemed a shame to have to sit in a somewhat sterile and artificial indoor arena to watch something that would be far more pleasant being played outdoors on this fine evening. I guess that’s part of the reason why the Twins are looking to move out and build their own outdoor ballpark. Anyway, we had decent seats in row 19 near 3rd base, and proceeded to see the Twins play so badly that they could "suck the chrome off a bumper" as Rhia put it. They stunk! No wonder the place was more than half empty. Hugely expensive A-Rod showed why Texas paid hundreds of millions of dollars for his contract by hitting a homer in the First, and Texas hit three more as they demolished the Twins by 10-1. This evening was not without CT content, as the PA played most of Surrender in the middle of the 5th inning, as the jumbotron showed faces in the crowd. I think the local players had already taken the song title to heart before the game started!

Wednesday 29 August – Cheap Trick in St Paul, Minnesota

Ah, back to Cheap Trick, and another show day. It didn’t bode well as we woke up to a thunderstorm outside, and saw local TV pictures of the soggy State Fairgrounds. Late morning saw us head over to the giant Mall of America, dominated by Camp Snoopy with its various rides and attractions in the centre. After spending too much money (but not finding the Fuse CD), we headed out to the State Fairgrounds, parking up at 3.30pm. By now the morning rain had cleared and it was bright and hot, but very humid. The State Fair was huge, though we ended up sitting close to the entrance to the very large grandstand, where the seating for the concert was. Got let in at 6.30pm, and it was reserved seating not GA.

The grandstand was very large, with the centre portion being roofed (at least for the seats towards the rear). There were also large banks of uncovered seating to either side of the grandstand and in total I guess it would hold 10-12,000. The venue was normally an oval motor racetrack, hence the single large grandstand. For tonight’s show the crowd was only seated in the main, covered part of the grandstand. The stage was a good size, but there was about a 30 ft gap between the stage and the front of the seating. Security would not allow any fans to stand in this front stage area, which contributed to the odd atmosphere when the show started.

The opening band was Cowboy Mouth from New Orleans, who seemed to have a modest but enthusiastic following amongst those who arrived early. I thought they were OK, and were fronted by their drummer, who sang, talked, cajoled the crowd, and at one point even managed to get down from the high stage, over the security fences, and come walk into the crowd. Interesting, and not a bad opening act for CT. After their 40 minute set it was disconcerting to see a sign on the big screens (at either side of the stage), warning the crowd to leave the grandstand in the event of bad weather… apparently a storm was headed our way for later in the evening.

Cheap Trick came on at 8.46pm.

RN – Red t-shirt, Shiny black jacket, black pants

TP – Long black jacket with red lining, black pants, black turtle neck shirt

RZ – Denim jacket, black sleeveless t-shirt, black pants

Daxx – Blue pinstripe shirt, grey pants

Drone intro, Dream Police, I Can’t Take It, She's Tight, Lookout, Ballad of TV Violence, Special One, Anytime, Tonight Its You, Matter of Time, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, The Flame (short version), Nite Time World, On Top Of The World, California Man, Clock Strikes Ten, Surrender / Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now

I estimated the crowd to be around 4,000. The band played a decent show, though the large gap between band and crowd really affected the atmosphere. It was odd to see Rick throw out handfuls of picks during Dream Police as usual… and they all fell onto empty concrete. Give them their due, the venue security picked up each one and gave them to the crowd. There were some technical problems during Tonight Its You. Matter of Time rocked, and the guy sitting next to me said it sounded "like Aerosmith when the used to rock". Interestingly, he turned out to be Kilo, drummer with Minneapolis band Flipp, who toured with Cheap Trick 3-4 years ago. IWYTWM got the crowd on their feet at last, as usual. After the song, Rick asked the crowd "How about those Twins?" He got a poor crowd response, so he changed the question to "How about those Vikings?" which got a big cheer! Odd to see myself on the big screens as Rick pointed me out, but I was saved when Rick mentioned the absence of Bun E, but the availability of Bun E coffee! John Birrenbach, purveyor of said beans (online) was in the crowd, and came down as far as security would let him, to throw a bag of Bun E coffee on stage! During IKWIW, Rick ended up at stage rear as the first chorus was due to start, so missed singing backing vox for some of it. On Top of the World was a cool addition, since it hadn’t been on the setlist prior to the show. The intro to California Man was interesting, as Rick kept his guitar droning at the end of the Brontosaurus intro part, and Robin tried to start several times before eventually (and good naturedly) putting his hand on Ricks guitar neck to silence it before launching into the first line of the song. Rick seemed to almost forget who was drumming when he did the line during Clock Strikes Ten "On the drums… <long pause>… Daxx Nielsen!". After Surrender, Rick came back on stage to say that they’d been told that the storm was imminent so they’d have to cut short the encore – they ended up dropping Voices.

The show ended at 10.14pm, and was immediately followed by a loud and visually spectacular 5 minute firework display over the racetrack. It didn’t finish a minute too soon, as the first drops of rain started falling as the fireworks ended.

We took the long walk back to the car in increasingly heavy rain, and literally the first 3 hours of the long drive back to Madison were entirely in driving rain and surrounded by spectacular lightning. I think we were driving in the same direction as the storm hence we were in it for so long. It was with relief that we eventually reached Madison well after 3am.

Thursday 30 August

A quiet and restful day after the previous long day and late night. Went out CD hunting in Madison – still no sign of the Fuse CD, nor of the re-released Sex.America.CT box set. It was also Rhia’s birthday, so we later celebrated that with some of her friends, pizza, beer and a movie! Fun!

Friday 31 August – Cheap Trick in Naperville, Illinois

A cool and cloudy morning, I spent much of it rearranging the contents of my suitcase to try to fit in my latest purchases! We left Madison at lunchtime and headed south to Chicagoland, for two shows before I’d fly home from Chi’s O’Hare Airport (home from home!). Checked into the Lisle Hilton, which faced a visually amazing, space age, mirrored glass fronted office building which had what was made to look like a giant mirrored satellite dish over its lobby. I later found out this was one of the Lucent Technologies HQ buildings. Spectacular.

Drove the short distance to downtown Naperville, past some really nice housing, and the area and downtown were as pretty as I remembered when I was last here in Dec 98 for the nearby Aurora album shows. I was glad that it was considerably warmer today than then, when it had been dry but minus zero! Parked up and walked through the street vendors (it being the Naperville Jaycees Last Fling festival) and the park to the concert venue. It was around 4.30, and many spots in the front stage area were already taken up with blankets or garden chairs. The front stage area was fenced off maybe 15 feet from the stage, and we were able to snag a decent front spot off to the right of the stage on Tom’s side. As the park filled up it was great as always to meet up with many good CT friends from the Chicagoland area!

The stage was a decent size, and was at the bottom end of a gently sloping area of the park in Naperville. The stage was backdropped by trees, through which the late afternoon sun dappled as we waited for the show to begin. It was all very pretty.

Harmony Riley opened, coming on stage a couple of minutes after 6pm. After having seen them play short sets opening for CT over past months, it was cool to hear them play an 85 minute set of both old and new tunes. The addition of another guitarist (replacing the keyboard player) has certainly added to the depth of their music, and the news songs highlight the continued development of this promising young band. Always worth seeing, in my opinion.

Before Cheap Trick took to the stage at 8.18, a number of local military veterans led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. By this time the crowd had swelled right up the hill at the top of the meadow, and my guestimate was over 3,00 for this free show (later officially reported as being 15,000).

RN – Black shiny jacket, red t-shirt, black pants

TP – Beige western style fringed jacket, big cowboy hat, black turtle neck shirt, black pants (Tom – this was Illinois, not Arizona or New Mexico! :-)

RZ – Blue denim jacket, long sleeved black t-shirt, baggy grey pants

Daxx – Black shirt, grey pants

Drone intro, Dream Police, I Can’t Take It, She’s Tight, You’re All Talk, Lookout, Special One, Anytime, Tonight Its You, Eight Miles Low, If You Want My Love, My Obsession, Big Eyes, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, The Flame (short version), Scent Of A Woman, California Man, Clock Strikes Ten, Surrender / Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now

Another nice set, and You’re All Talk rocked! After 8 Miles Low, Rick got a 5 yr old called Wayne onto the stage. Both Rick and Robin gave him picks as Rick tried to engage the youngster in conversation. Rick then asked the boy if he’d like a t-shirt… "Yes"… "Go buy one then!" However, a Silver t-shirt was eventually given to Rick from side stage which he gave to the boy. "Do you like that?" Rick asked… "Yes"… "Now get out!". Rick then started talking about new songs before Robin whispered in his ear and they went into If You Want My Love. However, it was a real buzz for me to hear the next song turning out to be "My Obsession", one of the new songs I’d not heard before! I’ve now heard 10 of the 16 or 17 new songs the band have played since mid July. Rick introduced Tom after IWTWM and he started playing the intro to Speak Now before launching into I Know What I Want.

The show ended at 9.53pm and many of the fans hung out for a while before being invited to leave by security. Before the show, Wild Cheri Brian was surprised to see me, and kindly invited us to his after-show get together. Rhia and I wandered around crowded downtown Naperville in search of somewhere to buy a 6 pack of beer before finding our way to Brian’s apartment. Had a cool time, seeing Brian, Cheri, their sweet Yorkie Oliver, and many of their friends! And like on my last stay there nearly 3 years ago, I was again amazed by Brians huge and very cool collection of CD’s, LP’s and music memorabilia. We said our goodbye’s approaching midnight, and stopped for a late night meal at a local TGI Fridays (the only eatery we found open) before heading back to the hotel and bed.

Saturday 1 September – Cheap Trick in Hanover Park, Illinois

Left the hotel at lunchtime, and drove north through the west ‘burbs of Chicago en route to Hanover Park. Managed to find a parking spot about mile from the Park where the Harvest Festival was being held. It was a warm and bright afternoon as we walked through the usual fairground and past a row of food stalls to join the other early birds at the stage. The stage was a good size, and a little like Naperville yesterday, was set at the bottom of a large area of park which sloped up to a rise.

It was another free show (which saved us all a few bucks), and a cool early discovery was that this was the 25th Anniversary of the Hanover Park Harvest Festival, and that the small bottles of water on sale had special labels on which was printed the weekends schedule! Of course this mentioned Cheap Trick, so many of the diehards rushed off to buy bottles to add to their collections of CT memorabilia! Yep, me included!

Again the front stage area gradually filled up with folks basking in the afternoon sun on fold-up chairs or blankets, and it was nice to relax and catch up with various friends.

Harmony Riley did a brief soundcheck around 5.30pm, which included Miles singing a little of Lennon’s "I’m Losing You". They came on stage properly a couple of minutes after 7pm, to play another 80 minute set of old and new songs. The crowd swelled during their set, and it was definitely crowded by the time Cheap Trick took to the stage at 9.02pm (the attendance was later officially reported as being 15,000 - same as Naperville).

RN – Black shiny jacket, Silver t-shirt, black pants

TP – Maroon velvet jacket, black pants, black turtle neck shirt

RZ – Blue denim jacket, black t-shirt, black pants

Daxx – Pale lilac shirt, grey pants

Drone intro, Dream Police, Just Got Back, Give It Away, If You Want My Love, Tonight Its You, She’s Tight, Words Can Never Say It, Matter of Time, Taxman, Oh Candy, Woke Up With A Monster, I Can’t Take It, Need Your Love, Big Eyes, Ballad of TV Violence, Voices, Anytime, I Want You to Want Me, Surrender / Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now

Before the band came on, they were announced by a man dressed as a hotel doorman or similar… weird! After She’s Tight, Rick announced that his first girlfriend was in the second row, pointed out a sweet grey haired senior lady and invited her up on stage. This was quite a feat, given the netted security barrier about 6 feet from the stage, but with the help of security, the lady eventually joined Rick on stage. Unlike the young children who’ve been pulled up on stage and who’ve been too shy to talk in front of a crowd, Pat wouldn’t stop! Several times Rick tried to diplomatically get her away from the mic, but she kept right on talking! She was very sweet though, and it was all good natured. Rick also pointed out a "CHPTRK8" licence plate held up in the crowd.

Things then took an odd turn, both on stage and down in the crowd. During this time a woman with physical and mental disabilities forced her way through the crowd and got herself in front of us at stage front. She didn’t seem to be fully aware of things, not even noticing Rick flicking a couple of picks at her. Soon after some young children came down and wanted to get to the front, so we ended up about 3 back. On stage, Rick was experiencing problems too, with (I think) both his in-ear monitor earpiece and mixer. After Taxman there was a long pause as he changed both sidestage. I Can’t Take It saw a false start as Rick changed his guitar, and he again had problems with his in-ear monitor. Same again during "Need Your Love", where he mouthed to us near the front "I can’t hear anything, I’m f***ed up". He then pointed up to the hazy full moon and did an imitation howl. Yeah, maybe the full moon was to blame for what was turning into an odd sort of evening. Rick actually sounded fine, though he didn’t know it. He continued to have problems during Big Eyes, and after that song some jerk threw a beer can onto the stage on Rick’s side. Luckily no one was hit, but after realising what had happened, Rick announced that there were "12,000 cool people here tonight, and one dickhead". The drunken idiot was quickly pointed out by those around him and ejected by security. However, it was cool that the band didn’t cut short the show, which has happened in the past when things have been thrown up on stage. Towards the end of TV Violence, Rick stood over Daxx’s shoulder and seemed to tease him. They then seemed to both speed up momentarily which obviously confused Robin who threw a sharp glance back towards them. Introducing IWYTWM, Robin yelled, "I WANT YOU..." and waited for "to want me!!" to come back from the crowd. He grinned and said, "Thank you very much!" The bands regular photographer, Mike Graham was snapping shots throughout the show, so perhaps some of these will appear on the official website soon.

After the show ended it was time to say goodbye to so many friends, and eventually head back to the hotel. This time we caught a Wendy’s for late night food, just before it closed.

Sunday 2 – Monday 3 September

Time to head home again. It was another bright and hot day, and Rhia and I had lunch at the nearby Rio Bravo Cantina (very nice). Good to watch the first couple of innings of the White Sox v Indians whilst eating, before we headed up towards O’Hare. Managed to upgrade on the short hop from Chicago to Minneapolis, which got me a bigger seat and a free James Page beer! No such luck in upgrading on the long overnight haul from Minneapolis to London’s Gatwick Airport. Again the travel curse kicked in, as the Captain announced that we’d be delayed by a minor maintenance problem, but we eventually took off 40 minutes late. Sleep was hard to find as usual, particularly as the plane was pretty crowded, though at least that meant I was awake to see sheets of fine white light out of the left hand side of the plane as we crossed over the northern Atlantic.

Got into Gatwick on time at 9am (with luggage!), which allowed me to catch a 10am train to Kings Cross station in London, and connect with the 11.10 train up to Leeds. Got a taxi home from the railway station at 2pm, jumped into the shower, and drove back into work at 3pm for 3 hours. Bed at 8pm, in time to get up at 5.30am Tuesday morning to head back down to London for a long day of work related meetings! Ouch, and all I wanted to do was sleep! Oh well, jetlag is always expected when I get home!

Thanks!

As always, it was cool to meet up with so many friends during the trip. I won’t name you all as I’m sure I’ll forget somebody, but you know who you all are! Many thanks to Rhiazann again for her hospitality, and thanks as ever to Cheap Trick, Carla, George and CT’s crew for four fun and interesting shows. I hope to see you all again soon!

Kim Gisborne – Sept 8th, 2001

 

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