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