Murmur was one of Melbourne’s original laneway venues. Now, after an overhaul, it’s something less common here: a piano bar.

If you’ve never been to one, these venues are – as the name makes clear – dedicated to and centred around live piano. In these bars in the US, drinkers gather around the instrument and have a rollicking night belting out show tunes and pop songs, led by a pianist.

On a trip to the States the bar’s co-owners, Peter Lalor and Dehne Bingham, went to one and “had the best night of their whole entire trip,” says Charlie Haggarty, Murmur Piano Bar’s manager. “So they said we need that in Melbourne – we need that all the time.”

In Murmur’s case, it’s a Yamaha baby grand piano, played skilfully by veteran performer Matt Ganim. His set list is your requests.

“He does a full range …Piano Man by Billy Joel … Last night I think I heard him play Britney Spears, and on opening night he played The Horses,” Haggarty says.

Ganim has done stints in piano bars across the world – from London to Las Vegas – and plays most nights of the week. When he’s not on the keys, Murmur gives a platform to piano students from the Victorian College of the Arts, who get mentorship from Ganim.

“As soon as people have had a few drinks they get really confident,” Haggarty says. “Once they’re into it you can see everyone just slowly moving towards the piano.”

Liquid courage comes in the form of cocktails, beer and wine. Food comes courtesy of Portello Rosso (Murmur’s downstairs neighbour) with a selection of tapas.

Pontoon lights and chandeliers now hang overhead, and the bar and booths have been re-upholstered in a crimson fabric. Red continues on the walls, which are adorned with framed pictures and posters of cabaret dancers.

Murmur Piano Bar is part of the 100 Burgers Group (Belle’s Hot Chicken, Mr Burger, Welcome to Thornbury), and Haggarty says the four-month refurbishment left the bar’s original DNA intact.

“This was their baby – but it felt like it was time for a change,” he says of Lalor and Bingham’s bar. “We didn’t want to just cut ties, shut down and rebrand; we just wanted to tweak it and change it.”

Murmur Piano Bar
17 Warburton Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9640 0395

Hours:
Tue to Thu 4.30pm–late
Fri & Sat 4pm–late

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