Rihanna closes Radio I’s Hackney Weekend: “You guys rock”

Pic: HackneyToday/Hannah Jones&Gary Manhine

More than 100,000 people attended the BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend over the last two days, the biggest music festival ever held in East London.

The free event climaxed with Rihanna telling the fans: “Hackney, they told me you lot are crazy but I did not expect it to be like this. You guys rock!”

The Barbadian star reunited with mentor Jay-Z to perform three songs. She told the audience: “This is history in the making, Hackney!.”

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. Another local star, Leona Lewis, also performed on Saturday.

Leona Lewis. Pic: HackneyToday/Hannah Jones&Gary Manhine

Other stars who appeared over the weekend included Kanye West, Jessie J, Florence and the Machine, Lana Del Ray, Jack White and Tinie Tempah.

The rain did not deter music fans, however, with around 50,000 people estimated to have attended on Sunday.  Despite warnings of travel delays and bad weather, the weekend passed without trouble, with fans praising the event and organisation.

Bindz Patel, aged 25, a campaigns Coordinator from Bow said: “This is my first festival. It being held so close to home did help encourage me to participate. I’m not sure if the festival will regenerate Hackney on it’s own, it’s more the combination of various events over the next year or two that will contribute to building up the community.”  Ryan Wain; 24, from London Bridge, said it was  a ‘’really unique and brilliant opportunity’’ to bring worldwide music to people that perhaps have never been to a festival. ‘’The acts staged are acts Hackney people might aspire to and allowing people to see these artists at no cost is brilliant. It’s a great way of bringing people together.”

Many local people helped organize the festival. One local volunteer Abi Orebigi, 35, said “I wanted to give something back to the community. From what I’ve heard from people I’ve spoken to, the weekend has really helped raise the spirits of local people. It’s been a huge success.”

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