Rock. Grunge. Blues. Jazz. Pop. Alternative. How the Auditorium loved to hear music vibrate through its walls! Hosting groups or stars from the musical world was somewhat of a second passion for the Verdun Auditorium.
Very early in its existence, a world-renowned jazz entertainer set foot on its stage: Cab Calloway. On May 28, 1940, his very famous song Minnie the Moocher resonated in the Auditorium, much to the audience’s delight. Jazz was then at its peak and enthusiasts filled the stands at the arena. American saxophonist Freddy Martin also performed at the arena on September 9, 1948.
The decades come and go, and the musical trends, too. During the course of its history, the Verdun arena followed these trends and welcomed a number of groups and performers. Not all, however! A certain Elvis Presley, who wanted to present his show, was refused access to the Auditorium. His musical style apparently didn’t jibe with Verdun values of the time. What a shame not to have welcomed “The King” within its walls! The 1980s and 1990s marked a turning point in the life of the arena: it was the rock craze! A number of internationally renowned groups made world tours. And who was lucky enough to host them in Montréal? None other than the Verdun Auditorium!
Never would the arena have believed it would welcomed to its stage the likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Pantera and Rage Against the Machine! For these rare occasions, tents were pitched in front of the Auditorium’s main entrance. People were sleeping outside on its doorstep in the hopes of getting tickets. Line-ups form, so long that you had to walk 15 minutes to reach the end. The building was literally taken by storm!
Listen to Verdun borough mayor Jean-François Parenteau describe the atmosphere of a show at the Auditorium:
Also listen to Marc D’Aoust, cultural officer of the Verdun borough, recount his memories of the Pearl Jam show at the Auditorium:
Since the start of the 21st century, the Auditorium hosted fewer groups. The building has a big, new competitor: The Bell Centre. But that didn’t prevent it from continuing to present large scale, international festive and musical events. Music, as much as hockey, is part of the Verdun Auditorium’s DNA. The mix of these two worlds make its beauty and reputation. Musical trends may change over time, but the Auditorium is always willing to play host to the musical groups of this world.