Évreux. Blues Slaughterhouses | La Dépêche Évreux

By Sophie Bordier
Published on

May 1, 24 at 3:00 p.m.

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It was their last session. Saturday April 13, 2024, all the musicians who have ever passed through the door of the rehearsal premises of the Abattoirs d’Évreux (Eure) were invited to a souvenir photo at the invitation of the Venus In Fuzz association. Souvenir because the premises in question will soon be permanently closed. Since the end of the 1980s, they had occupied part of the immense complex of municipal slaughterhouses, built, not without difficulty, in 1882 and put into service in 1887. A session which revived quite a few memories.

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“We didn’t bother anyone”

“My mother, who worked at Solange Baudouxtold him that local groups were struggling to find rehearsal space,” recalls Didier Sabater (Erga Omnes/City Ramblers). The Culture Assistant of Roland Plaisance had then found this solution: offering groups the old stalls of the Abattoirs pigsty, spaces large enough to accommodate the musicians and their equipment. “She had proposed to Erga Omnes, but we refused.”

It is ultimately through Christian Rouxhead of the rock sector of the MJC, “who had taken Black Maria under his wing from our beginnings”, recalls Olivier Delacroix, that a first premises was invested in 1987/1988. “We were rehearsing at the MJC, but Christian, who had spotted us as a hopeful from the department, fought for us to have a place to rehearse permanently, we needed a place reserved for unlimited hours,” continues the singer who became journalist. In his eyes at the time, the Abattoirs were perfect. “We were quiet here, we didn’t bother anyone, we could repeat ad lib,” says the guitarist. Philippe Nemmar who, in passing, remembers having experienced, “my little one, the passage of animals”. The starting and ending point of ten years of touring. Black Maria will use it as their headquarters until the end of the group in 1998.

A Berber tent

Electricity and lights were installed, but “there were water leaks everywhere,” continues Philippe. As the ceiling was cathedral, the musicians had stretched a canvas above the drums, “like a Berber tent”, smiles Cyril Avenel (Rackham/Spy). “With James [Depierre]we took care of installing a false ceiling, a carpet on the concrete floor”, “and we covered the walls with recovered foam panels”, adds his sidekick Fabrice Levillain, when Red Rackham joined the scene. And, in the (almost) neighboring premises, the Mi-Cats Mi-Mouris move in, “35 years ago! ” precise Stéphane Haas.

The three rehearsal rooms at Les Abattoirs will soon be emptied. ©Sophie B.

“This provision by the City was a bit difficult at the time. When Jean-Louis Debré was elected mayor, we were then asked that each premises be managed by an association and produce an insurance certificate,” continues Cyril. Les Arts Rock will therefore take care of the first premises, La Boitazik of the second.

The place is ideal. Away from the city, it is accessible at any time “to bring back and store equipment after sometimes distant concerts”. Under the vigilant supervision of Mario Porcu, the site’s caretaker at the time.

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The list of groups that have played there is long, “the keys were passed from hand to hand”, as is the list of evenings which followed the rehearsal sessions… “It’s mostly Sunday mornings, very very early…” smiles Jef Hirel (Marie Octobre, Lili Banez), “I didn’t even think I would come back”.

Housing and a park

In 2016, Arts Rock handed over the keys to their premises to Venus in Fuzz and its president Olivier Devallais (Les Équarisseurs) which refreshes it. Gang of Venus, Les Golden Romeos, Buckaroo Banzaï, Marcö and Trémolo were still rehearsing there a few days ago, a few steps from the Registrars and UFOS who share the Boitazik premises. Not for much longer.

The end of an era. ©Sophie B.

The municipal pound left ten years ago, the logistics platform for technical services two years ago, and only the rehearsal premises remained. The time to move has arrived. Head to the old La Forêt school, converted into an associative space, where the city’s bridge and billiard clubs are already housed. After the Boarding, another page in local musical history turns.

The Abattoirs, with their thousand square meters of buildings, and their brick architecture typical of the end of the 19th centurye century, will soon be sold. “We are finalizing the specifications,” assures the mayor of the City, Guy Lefrand, asked about the subject. “We will leave the possibility of rehabilitating them, because it is a beautiful building. But if we don’t find anything, we’ll leave the possibility of cutting them down to make housing.” More broadly, “the idea is to clean up the entire peninsula to make it a public landscaped park which will extend along the Iton in the years to come. Green spaces which can, in the event of flooding, serve as a spillway basin.”

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