Tim Hughes attends a jaw-dropping double bill

This was always going to be special show — and one which dared to be different. For a start, there were three stars — Oxford chic-pop act Candy Says, Texan singer and performance artist Chrysta Bell, and the venue itself — Europe’s oldest purpose-built music venue. And all three shone and delighted in a night of jaw-dropping beauty, stark sex appeal, and sheer fun.

While there was no bar at the diminutive, acoustically perfect, 18th century concert hall, there were treats of a different kind being handed out in the entrance, in the shape of disco discs and bags of Fizz Wiz — not Class-A designer drugs but old fashioned sweets and popping candy.

First up was Chrysta Bell, whose statuesque supermodel appearance and smouldering stage presence is accompanied by towering vocal prowess. It was clear from the start that Bell is way more than just a pretty face.

The mesmerizing music was straight out of her native Texas, projecting a dark and twisted Western soundtrack feel, with slowly strummed twanging guitars and that skyscraping voice. It was all very Lynchian, as well it might be, Bell having spent a decade collaborating with the legendary filmmaker for her album This Train. It was haunting stuff; one almost expecting to see tumble weeds, a twister or perhaps a lone rattlesnake cross the stage at any time.

Bell’s sinuous movements leant the set an indefinable erotic charge, but despite the occasional burst of wrought emotion, it was sultry and glacially understated stuff.

Also projecting an air of being just too-cool-for-school are headliners Candy Says, who launch their debut album Not Kings by playing it all the way through, more or less in order.

Where Chrysta Bell was sinuous and edgy, this is sugar-coated, life-affirming technicolour fayre.

“We are Candy Says, we spent a year recording an album in our garage, and we are going to attempt to play it,” says smiling frontwoman Julia ‘Juju’ Sophie Heslop. And with that, she dives into a set which rollercoasts between swaying, melodic low-fi pop, rhythmic Velvet Underground-style art-rock, dance-pop, synthwave, chanson — sung faultlessly in French by our Francophile (and, lest we forget, half-Gallic) frontwoman — and heart-warming tenderness.

“We are from Oxford — they know that,” Juju remarks from the stage to Bell, who is watching the show from the back. “Most of the people we know are here!”

Perhaps that why it all feels so intimate – like a big family gathering. Ignore the grand surroundings and we could have been back in Juju’s famous garage.

The show came to a neat close with the end of the album, and, as I walked out into the clear night, melodies ringing in my ears and space dust tingling on my tongue, I realised I was smiling. And I wasn’t alone. Perhaps we all felt we’d been party to something special... and something quite beautiful.