Concert Square “Rite of Passage” venue started as a noodle bar
A Concert Square bar that has been keeping Liverpool dancing for 25 years has seen many changes in its lifetime.
Anyone visiting Liverpool city center on a scorching summer afternoon need only head to the suntrap which is Concert Square’s outdoor space to find where the crowds are. This year MODO, the bar that serves the square, celebrates a quarter of a century since its opening.
However, things weren’t always like this. Before its transformation in the early 1990s, Concert Square was an abandoned piece of land and a world completely removed from what we know today.
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Prior to regeneration, the square was the site of an abandoned chemical laboratory. Its transformation was the brainchild of Urban Splash – now one of the world’s leading regeneration companies.
In partnership with Liverpool Council, the developers have regenerated the land creating lofts, cafe bars, offices and remodeled the square below into an al fresco drinking space.
MODO first appeared in Concert Square in 1997. Billed as “the first restaurant of its kind outside of London”, the venue consisted of four parts: a noodle bar; Rocomodo, described as a “burlesque lounge bar”; The Kiosk, which included a bar, coffee bar, sandwich shop, newsagents and florist, as well as a separate hospitality suite for group bookings.
One of the bar’s original designers told ECHO a year after it opened: “Concert Square’s social life had become very one-dimensional and very drink-oriented, almost like in Ibiza. We saw MODO as a chance to re-establish balance and introduce an alternative to pumping out club music.”
Now, 25 years later, the noodle bar is gone, but MODO’s management team say the bar has retained its personality despite a number of changes over the years. Colin Smith, the bar’s marketing manager, told ECHO: “One of the things about MODO is that it’s gone through different faces and personalities over the years, but it’s always remained MODO.
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“It’s a bit of a rite of passage, everyone has been to MODO at some point. In my early twenties when I was a student, it was a great place to go. You had your house parties and your R&B parties.”
It’s hard to understand the impact a place like MODO has had on Liverpool’s nightlife unless you remember the city before it was there. There is no doubt that Concert Square has changed the perception and culture of the Liverpool bar scene with its ambition and iconic outdoor space, and MODO has played a big part in that.
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Oliver Clarke, general manager of the bar, revealed that the bar has also been at the forefront when it comes to LGBTQ+ friendly parties in the city. He told ECHO: “One of the first gay nights out of gay town was at MODO. Also being in the gig square was quite pioneering because it wasn’t in an established gay district.
“And it was popular with straight guys and it was such a unique night. I remember people asking if it was a gay club and we said no, it’s gay friendly.”
While bars have come and gone throughout its life, MODO has retained its ethos and managed to cement its place in the heart of Concert Square.
Marketing Director Colin Smith said: “MODO has done a great job of recognizing its strengths. There are multiple spaces and multiple opportunities under one roof. The ground floor is a typical cocktail bar with its cabins, then there is the floor which has a balcony. overlooking the square which is great in the summer.
“Downstairs is your typical nightclub with great DJs and lots of different parties. And then you have your outdoor space which in Liverpool having so much outdoor space in a downtown bar is hugely valuable.
“It’s big, not just with the local crowd, but with foreigners. Liverpool over the last 10 years the renaissance in terms of stay. Whether it’s stags and hens or just international people visiting Liverpool, many of them seem to pass through just because of its outdoor space.”
He added: “It’s been 25 years this year. We’re planning a birthday party for this summer, so we’ll be having a special night just to celebrate all of its history, all of the DJs and people that have been through its doors. .”