Anyone that knows me will know that my guilty pleasure is 90s popstars (ok, I don’t feel guilty about it at all) so when I was offered the chance to check out this years Now That’s a Festival I jumped at the chance. I mean let’s face it a line-up that features S Club, Dane Bowers, Blazin’ Squad, 911, B*Witched, Damage and Blue is a line-up that speaks to my 12 year old self (and my 33 year old self to be honest).
Taking place in Dagenham’s central park the pop extravaganza returned for its second year after last year’s event was headlined by Peter Andre. The gates opened up at 1pm on Saturday afternoon with a few local acts taking to the stage to start proceedings including Tony Roberts, a BBC Let It Shine finalist and The Voice Kids winner Jess Folley, the latter having SUCH a powerful voice for a 13 year old!
Unfortunately we managed to miss Dane Bowers and S Club (sob) due to being slightly delayed navigating across north and east London so it was down to Blazin’ Squad to kick things off for us. Making a comeback after Marcel’s appearance on Love Island Blazin’ Squad (well 5 of them) gave us a glimpse of what to expect when they take to the stage at Koko in October, their set was short and sweet with them performing just three songs, although to be honest I’m not sure many people could remember more than that, their last song ‘Crossroads’ provided one of the biggest singalong moments of the afternoon of course!
One of my favourite performances was from R&B group Damage, I saw them a few years ago on ITV’s Boyband Big Reunion tour and remember thinking then they were really good live and if they came along today they’d probably be really popular! On Saturday they played some newer songs as well as the singles ‘Ghetto Romance’ ‘Forever’ ‘Love II Love’ and their cover of ‘Wonderful Tonight’ before doing a little medley of some of their favourite songs including Tinie Tempah’s ‘Pass Out’ and So Solid Crew’s ’21 Seconds’. We managed to grab them for a quick hello after they had come off stage and they were the loveliest guys! I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future gigs.
After a little wander around the festival site in the sunshine it was time to see 911, the pop trio showed us that they are still capable of back-flipping across the stage during Bodyshakin’ 20 years (eeek) after its release! and judging by the amount of people rushing to the fence to meet them after they came off stage they still have a very loyal fan-base!
The double denim was no where to be seen but B*Witched provided us all with plenty of singalong opportunities during their performance with songs such as Blame it on The Weatherman, Jesse Hold On and of course C’est La Vie which they remixed with Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl (well if two songs were ever supposed to be mixed it was definitely these!)
The day went by in a flash and we would have happily remained in our 90s pop bubble long into the night but alas, there was a curfew so the time came for headliners Blue to take to the stage. They were on top form, sounding (and looking!) great, the crowd sang along to every word of ‘All Rise’, ‘Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word’ and final song of the evening ‘One Love’.
It would have been good to have the stage times posted online a day or two before just to know the order of the performances but that would only be a minor criticism! Overall I thought Now That’s a Festival was really well organised, all the security we came across during the day were helpful and friendly. There were a good number of food stalls to choose from and the queues for the bar and toilets didn’t get too big! The atmosphere was fun and friendly throughout the day with everybody just there for a big pop party…which is exactly what we got! 🙂
Now That’s a Festival is returning to Dagenham in August next year with the legendary Dru Hill and BlackStreet on the line-up, find out more and buy (early bird) tickets here!
Photos by Hayley Goodsell