One Love Festival review: Taste of Jamaican life in Hainault

PUBLISHED: 10:25 05 September 2016 | UPDATED: 13:05 05 September 2016

Music lovers at the one love festival

Music lovers at the one love festival


As the sun began to set on the weekend at Hainault Forest Country Park the words “jah Rastafari” carried on ringing through the air.

Reggae star Prince Hammer was on stage at the One Love Festival, which has brought a little slice of Jamaica to Redbridge during the past three days.

Jerk chicken was on the barbeque, Caribbean flags fluttered in the breeze and the deep sounds of dub echoed out from tents across the site.

I attended One Love Festival on Sunday, as it returned to the park in Romford Road, Hainault, for the first time in five years.

Organiser Dan Wiltshire promised a “celebration of peace, love and unity”, and that was definitely the vibe with people of all ages enjoying the music.

After a raucous Friday and Saturday, with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Big Youth and The Congos performing, the final day of the festival had a relaxed feel to it.

Couples lay on sofas and families ate picnics in front of the One Love Stage as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds.

Neville Staple of The Specials got the crowd to their feet with a rendition of the band’s hit Message To Rudy, and the smaller tents began to fill up.

With a stack of speakers the size of a football goal, the ground seemed to shudder in the Saxon Sound Arena as the famed south London soundsystem performed as part of their 40th anniversary tour.

Reggae icon Bob Marley is clearly a big influence on the festival.

Marley t-shirts were sold across the site, he was frequently quoted by the artists and the festival is named after his famous 1978 concert in Kingston, Jamaica, when the international superstar got the leaders of two warring political parties to hold hands on stage.

You could be forgiven for thinking you saw Marley in the distance, as dreaded Joe Angel performed a stirring rendition of Redemption Song on Marley’s classic guitar the Gibson Les Paul.

Back on the One Love Stage north London based Natty drew a large crowd for an acoustic reggae set with his band the Rebel Ship.

Organiser Dan said his highlight was Sunday’s final act on the One Love Stage, 3 The Hard Way, which combined reggae acts Aswad, Steel Pulse and Matumbi.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity seeing those three great musicians together. We love to bring people together and make new pieces of art.”

And Dan confirmed One Love will return to Hainault next year: “We’re going to spend the whole year working to make sure 2017’s festival is brilliant.”

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