Sun, 23 Jun 2002

Madison Avenue: Dance music step by boring step

Hera Diani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Clubbers around the world know how to react when they hear this opening song line: "You and me we had an opportunity .... "

And then it continues: "Don't think that I'm that strong/I'm the one to take you on/Don't underestimate me/Boy, I'll make you sorry you were born," before the song hits the chorus: "You don't know me the way you really should/You're sure misunderstood/Don't call me, baby."

The undeniable hit Don't Call Me Baby by Australian duo Madison Avenue shook everyone up and caused dance-floor mayhem around the globe when it was released two years ago, on an album titled Polyester Embassy.

Well, the song is actually that good. The tune is infectious and addictive, and the lyrics obviously hit a chord with females around the world.

The song made Madison Avenue the first dance act to top the Australian charts, and the first Australian dance act to top the UK charts.

The song also made the Australian label that released it, Vicious Vinyl, the most successful independent dance label around.

A few months later, another number one hit single, Who The Hell Are You, followed.

Madison Avenue are leading Melbourne DJ and producer Andy Van and singer Cheyne Coates.

Van is a pioneer of Australia's small but perfectly formed dance music scene. One of the co-owners of Vicious Vinyl, he has been responsible for many high-profile remixes, including one from Son of a Cheeky Boy, aka Fatboy Slim.

Coates, meanwhile, worked for many years as a dancer and choreographer.

Although it would appear that Madison Avenue is Van's project, with Coates merely acting as vocalist, the duo said the group is a true collaboration, with Coates involved in every aspect of production.

The duo's impressive CV, however, failed to liven up their recent performance here.

Madison Avenue was slated to perform in Surabaya, Bandung and Jakarta last week.

I don't know about the other two cities, but the performance at the Hotel Borobudur's Grand Manhattan discotheque in Central Jakarta was pretty disappointing.

It was flat, there were no thrills, and couldn't even entice the audience to dance.

Two hours after it was supposed to start at 9 p.m., there was still no sign that any group would be performing.

The venue was packed, though, indicating the popularity of the Australian duo.

People began to become restless and soon boos started to be heard, but the stage remained dark and empty.

Only about 15 minutes later did the show start, with Coates showing up and immediately singing the hit that brought them to the masses, Don't Call Me Baby.

Wearing a long, glittering silver coat and red pants, she was accompanied by four female dancers.

Sexy as they were, they failed to add spark to the night, even when they performed with red fans (one dropped her's) or brought some pillows onto the stage and lay down while Coates sang.

Song after song, including a remixed version of Carole King's (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, sounded similar and sterile, as if listening to the tape. And it had nothing to do with Coates being several months pregnant, as she can still move her body.

"Everybody here is so warm and nice. I hope my country does the same thing for you (people) as you deserve it ..., " Coates said.

Well, nice try, but we need more than that when we are paying for a performance.