Sunday 18 March 2018

Rihanna closes Hackney free festival after big name line-up

Rihanna performs at the Hackney Weekender festival at Hackney Marshes in east London. Photo: Reuters
Rihanna performs at the Hackney Weekender festival at Hackney Marshes in east London. Photo: Reuters

Shereen Low

Rihanna brought BBC Radio 1's Hackney Weekend to a close with a hit-filled set tonight and told her British fans: "You rock."

The Barbadian star, the headline act of the night, reunited with mentor Jay-Z to perform three songs. She told the audience: "This is history in the making, Hackney!."

Wearing an embellished black leather jacket, oversized T-shirt and tiny hotpants, the pop star said to the thousands gathered for the free festival in east London: "Hackney, they told me you lot are crazy but I did not expect it to be like this. You guys rock!

"You guys have made this show so memorable for me. I've been waiting so long for this show."

The Umbrella singer, who had joined Jay-Z on stage last night for Run This Town, made one fan's day when she invited her on stage to secure her soundpack to her top, joking: "Don't touch my bra."

She danced around the Egyptian-themed set as she sang hits including Rude Boy, Please Don't Stop the Music and Disturbia.

The day's music had been kicked off by Hackney boy Professor Green. The 28-year-old rapper said: "Being a Hackney boy, I didn't know I could come back and perform to a crowd of this size."

The rapper - whose real name is Stephen Manderson - added: "I played football here at the marshes but they put me in the goals because I was rubbish."

He was cheered on by his girlfriend Millie Mackintosh, who stars in ITV2 show Made In Chelsea, as he performed hits Remedy and Just Be Good To Green.

Fellow Hackney rapper Plan B - also known as Ben Drew - slipped on the stage several times during the downpour that coincided with his set, but persevered to perform hits including She Said, Ill Manors and a cover of Seal's Kiss From A Rose.

The rain did not deter music fans, however, with around 50,000 people estimated to have attended today. A total of 100,000 attended over the weekend.

Tinie Tempah got the earth moving as the crowds jumped for his hit Earthquake.

"Oh my God, we're back home," he said.

The 23-year-old, whose real name is Patrick Okogwu, also performed Written In The Stars, Frisky, Miami 2 Ibiza and Girls, which he recorded with Calvin Harris.

Ending with his number one hit Pass Out, the rapper said: "Thank you Hackney. Believe in your dreams."

Leona Lewis, who grew up in Hackney, had been the first singer of the weekend. Other acts performing included Jessie J, Nicki Minaj, and Florence + The Machine. Dizzee Rascal was revealed as a surprise guest act today.

More than 250,000 people applied for tickets for the two-day festival, with most reserved for people from the neighbouring Olympic boroughs.

Organisers have been working closely with police to ensure safety at the show, part of the London 2012 Festival which kicked off this week.

Melissa Jones, 32 from Bethnal Green, east London, said: "It's nice to see different kinds of people here of all ages and there has been a good line-up.

"It's great that it is so close to many people, which makes it feel more real to the local community."

Vanita Patel, 30, also from Bethnal Green, added: "It has been brilliant - so many big names for a free festival. It's an amazing use for the marshes."

Tristan Wigfall, 30, from Peckham, south London, said: "It is a fun day out with good music. And at least it didn't rain much."

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