Korova Liverpool
Music and nightlife lovers were shocked to hear of Korova burning down last summer. This week, however, there’s been the news that it’s gone up in smoke for good.

Liverpool Investment Solutions, who own the blaze-hit Korova building on Hope Street, say they plan to re-open the site in around six months. But not as Korova. Instead, they’re opting for a brand new bar/restaurant and shop to take its place.


It’s difficult not to look back through rose-tinted specs (Ray Bans, naturally – we’re talking about Korova here) once a venue like that has shut its doors. But it really was a one-off at the time, and a place the city was crying out for – a hub not only for Liverpool’s ‘creatives’ but anyone who had a passing interest in electronic, punk or indie music. Basically, anything you wouldn’t hear blasting out in Baa Bar next door. It seems odd typing that now because the city currently has a glut of great bars in a similar vein – The Shipping Forecast, Leaf, Tabac – but back in the mid 2000s it seemed like it was only cities like London and Manchester who could boast unique, buzzing and inventive places like Korova. Liverpool just shrugged, pretended we weren’t bothered, and then looked on with envy.


A quick glance around Korova at a weekend and you’d see ‘shirt and shoes’ partygoers supping vodka before they head to Concert Square, middle-aged drinkers who fancied reliving a bit of the creative energy of Eric’s, and the city’s cooler-than-cool all co-existing in one place. Eclectic, occasionally with a hint of pretension, but pretty much always fun.

Its sudden relocation to Hope Street changed things – by dipping its toe in the student quarter, it lost some of the spark that made its original Fleet Street location so appealing and special. Gone were the diner-from-a-different-planet interiors, instead it looked and felt like… well, any other city centre bar.

But at its heart Korova was a great concept, as it was a great music venue. Promoters Evol, alongside many independant and DIY music-lovers, put on some wonderful gigs and clubnights in its cramped basement (see below) over the years. Its sweaty underground concert space was a welcome antidote to the city’s other, rather sterile, venues that touring bands passed through.

In the end, it was a darkly appropriate finish: what better way to go than up in flames and with a whiff of arson? You don’t get a more punk rock ending than that. It’s better to burn out than fade away, a wise man once said, but we’re not sure they meant it that literally. Some of our Saturday nights at Korova may a bit fuzzy (damn you, Red Stripe) – but what we do know is that it’s a bar that’s made a lasting, positive impact on Liverpool’s nightlife. In a city bursting with alcopop-hustling chain bars, sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

Images: Katielips, minusbaby, nikoretro

23 Responses to “RIP Korova”

  1. Littoral

    Oh and one of the notable things about Liverpool since the bar scene go going in the early/mid-nineties was how non-chain it has been unlike the rest of corporate infested England, included horrid London. The corporate shit took a hell of a lot of time to get here. And Liverpool had groovy late night opening bars since before London did. Even today, try to get a drink in the West End after 11. Not straightforward. Maybe just maybe the Dry Bar pipped the original Baa Bar in terms of a certain type of early 90s bar but Liverpool had had a weird multitude of legal or not shibeens and whatnot going back to before the Liverpool 8 riots. And unlike almost anywhere else in the country.

  2. Nice overreaction. I think the point was that there wasn’t anything quite like Korova at the time – a decent, cool bar you could listen to great music in, day as well as night. Which there wasn’t. Korova ticked a lot of boxes.

  3. Littoral

    Yes, there was no bar quite like the quirky Korova at the time. Correct – it was rather unusual. I don’t know why you didn’t just say that . There wasn’t anything quite like it anywhere else either.

  4. Hey Littoral – why don’t you just call it quits at this point? We’re all for having a bit of barney over things that actually matter but pointless sniping at everything is really rather dull.

  5. Kneel Before Zod

    What a shame. Seems like Shipping Forecast has stepped into those achingly cool shoes mind. P.S. Up in flames is being a bit fast and loose with the facts eh?

  6. Littoral

    The Shipping Forecast is a pubco chain bar of sorts however. One thing I will give the article is that its writer is right to think that Korova was better on Fleet St rather than in a more studenty area. The more clued up stewds would seek it out anyway and you don’t really want the Scream Yellow Car mob anyway who’d been much happier in the Haigh or the Font. One thing that has always been good about Liverpool cf. other cities has been the mad mix of folk that you find out in various bars and pubs around town. Keeping Korova down the hill meant that it was one of those places. A scattering of student ghetto bars on the edge of a campus filled with 100 per cent students listening to indie music coupled with a hostile opposing scene of townie meathead bars avoided by anyone over 25 (yes I’m looking at you, Manchester) does not make for a vibrant and eclectic nightlife scene.

  7. The Shipping Forecast may be part of a chain but at least the chain make a concerted effort to make each one of their venues unique in terms of the way it looks and feels.

  8. The Grand High Vizier

    Korova has been dead to me for years. Ever since it moved and Revo stopped being associated with the place (he was the heart and soul of the venue).

    Still makes me sad to walk past the old place, some amazing times in there!

  9. The Last Finger Puppet

    Love Littoral he/she’s so Scouse, so opinionated. Even gets told off by Robin for it! I’m sure we’re all agreed that Korova was a very special venue. I had some great nights there. The bands (on the cusp of..) who graced it’s rediculously small stage were on a par with Eric’s. The only downer is that not too many of the successful bands were from Liverpool.

    For me, Liverpool doesn’t have a stand-out venue at the moment. The Masque’s too big, Shipping Forecast’s too smart and the stage is dire, Mojo is huge and the sound’s crap, the Zanzi has great sound but lacks atmosphere. All good venues but I don’t love them like I loved Korova.

    Korova (Fleet St) can’t be replaced or replicated. If the original team try to re-heat the souffle I fear it’ll struggle. Us Scousers are sentimental, no doubt, but one thing we can’t resist is something brand new. New name, newer better venue please!

  10. We’re all for opinions – we shout about ours often enough. We’d just rather keep it civil. A tirade of snarkey comments, spitting contempt at everything and everyone, get rather dispiriting and tiresome after a while. Play the game, not the man.

  11. The Last Finger Puppet

    A bit touchy, Robin? I’ve re-read Littoral’s comments and I honestly can’t find ‘a tirade of snarkey comments, spitting contempt at everything and everyone’.

    Anyway, we digress….

  12. To be honest yeah we probably are a bit touchy sometimes. The last couple of weeks has seen a load of aggressive comments and its pretty wearing to be on the end of it.

    I’ve had to edit a lot of comments recently because they were aggressive and beyond the pale and we don’t want the site to devolve into another corner of the Internet where people just flame one another. There’s always YouTube and The Guardian for that eh?

  13. The Last Finger Puppet

    Hey, Korova used to have membership cards. I was a member myself and you got discounts on food and drinks.

    I like the idea of membership. It creates the right environment for a scene to develop. I hear Eric’s had a proper membership thing. Any other venues doing it now?

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