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Chris Martin jokes as Rihanna runs late for Global Citizen Festival

The Bajan star performed at the free annual event in Central Park, New York.

Published 25/09/2016

Rihanna
Rihanna

Chris Martin entertained fans at the Global Citizen Festival in New York on Saturday by performing an impromptu set after learning headliner Rihanna was running late.

The free music event, which is in its fifth year, brings world leaders, activists and celebrities together in an effort to help end extreme poverty by 2030.

This year's festival, held in Central Park, featured appearances by a host of celebrities, including Neil Patrick Harris, Salma Hayek, Chelsea Handler, Priyanka Chopra and Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness, with other performers including Demi Lovato, Major Lazer and Metallica.

Major Lazer kicked off the festivities with a high-energy set, while Usher surprised the crowd with a special performance before jetting off for a set later that night at the iHeartRadio Music festival in Las Vegas.

Demi Lovato, who stepped in after Selena Gomez cancelled her appearance due to health issues, also took to the stage and made a passionate speech about gender equality.

"Thank you global citizens, especially all of you who are working toward the global goal of gender equality and standing up for women and girls everywhere," she said to the crowd, before performing Aretha Franklin's Natural Woman. "This next one has inspired and lifted up women everywhere for years, even since before I was born, and it still does."

As fans waited for Rihanna to emerge, Chris Martin kept the crowd occupied with an impromptu jam session with Eddie Vedder. The unlikely duo shared the stage for a brief three-song set that included Pearl Jam's Nothingman, Crowded House's Don't Dream It's Over, and Patti Smith's People Have The Power.

However, the Coldplay frontman returned to the stage after it was revealed Rihanna was running late, and treated the audience to a rendition of Prince's Raspberry Beret, with new lyrics jokingly detailing why Rihanna was behind schedule.

The Bajan singer soon arrived and took to the stage, performing a hits-packed set as she closed the festival with songs including We Found Love, Umbrella, and Needed Me.

"We got global citizens in the house tonight - I myself, I'm from Barbados so I came a long way," Rihanna said. "There are people all over the globe that need help."

On the eve of her headline gig, the 28-year-old Diamonds hitmaker was named a Global Ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education. As part of her new role, through her Clara Lionel Foundation, she will work with officials at the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen to ensure 250 million children in the poorest areas of the world are granted access to schooling.

"I feel strongly that all children everywhere should be afforded the opportunity of a quality education," Rihanna said in a statement. "Working together, I know we can amplify our efforts and ensure that millions of children gain access to education globally."

Last year's Global Citizen Festival featured Beyonce as the headliner and appearances from First Lady Michelle Obama and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

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