A touch of Manhattan jazz right in the heart of the Melbourne CBD? Baby, you got yourself a winner here. The Manchester Lane bar has fast become a popular destination for those seeking an evening of quality (with a price to match) food and beverages, and some pretty mean live music acts. Indeed, in days gone by, this bar would have made a proud home for history's music greats - Ella, Dizzy, Nina, Aretha, Frank et al.
The venue is divided between the bar area, suitable for those after work cocktails or a mid-week date, and the restaurant area, consisting of 'raked' levels of tables and a main seating area in front of the meagre stage. Muted tones allow the eyes to relax so the senses can concentrate on the music. And naturally, with such a focus on live music, the sound system here will not leave you wanting. Vocals and instrumentation all reach your ears, crystal clear. And if you need a little breather (read: cancer stick) from this excitement, just pop outside to soak up some Melbourne laneway action.
Manchester Lane also lays on a pretty good spread come festival time. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival takes over with international and local acts hitting the stage to fill the audience with mirth and mayhem. Fringe Festival also sees music and cabaret acts tread the boards (carpet?) for the enjoyment of all. When you add these to the regular line-up of top-class artists moving through the venue, Manchester Lane is truly a formidable music destination.
Mark Gambino, March 2008