MUSIC lovers were treated to sets by more than 40 bands, artists and DJs for one of the biggest days in Oxford’s cultural calendar, Ritual Union festival.

The event, which took place in venues in East Oxford’s Cowley Road, was headlined by Wheatley star Gaz Coombes, formerly of the band Supergrass, who was performing a set of solo material, including songs from his latest album World’s Strongest Man.

Performances took place in the O2 Academy, the Bullingdon, The Library and The Truck Store.

Highlights of the festival, organised by Simon Bailey of promoters Future Perfect, also included sets by Ghostpoet, Jane Weaver, Nadine Shah, Suuns, The Lovely Eggs, Gnod, Boy Azooga and Warmduscher and local acts Low Island, Self Help, Cassels, Easter Island Statues, Mother, Vienna Ditto, Cherokii and Lacuna Common.

Oxford Mail:

Gaz's show was his only full band performance in Oxford this year and followed an acclaimed set at the summer's Truck festival and a North American tour.

He was joined by his backing band, largely consisting of Oxfordshire friends, including guitarist Garo Nahoulakian, bassist Nick ‘Growler’ Fowler and drummer Mike Monaghan.

One of his backing singers, Kansas-born singer-songwriter Piney Gir, also performed her her own show. She said: “We had a good time. It was really good to do my own thing earlier on - and we all love being on stage with Gaz. It felt great.”

Growler agreed, saying, after the show: “It’s been amazing fun and it's great so many people came down. There were a lot of Oxford faces in the crowd which is always good.”

The band recently played on US TV programme The Late Late Show with James Corden, flying out to Los Angeles for the performance. Garo, who was sporting a particularly loud shirt he picked up in LA, said: "That was great fun to do. We were really lucky to get to do it with Gaz - and James was really nice too. It was a great experience."

Oxford baker Julia Atkinson of Happy Cakes in north Oxford, baked themed cupcakes for the band, embellished with pictures, which they proudly showed off in their dressing room after the show - before devouring them.

A lively, ferociously-loud show by Cassels downstairs at The Library was so packed, crowds were forced to listen from the staircase outside.  

Ghostpoet surprised many fans with a powerful, beefed-up sound with a full band, a contrast to his older cool, downtempo material.

Nadine Shah's sophisticated full-band set was also a departure for the Mercury-nominated Geordie, who joked the last she was at the venue, it had just been her singing with a guitar.

An after party at The Bullingdon featured sets by phenomenal Irish band Fontaines DC and, more bizarrely, former snooker ace Steve Davis, who played a DJ set of fast electro-rock, enlivened by his own eccentric dance moves - while drinking a bottle of beer.

Organiser Simon Bailey said: "What an incredible day Ritual Union was. Thanks to all my friends who came down to help out or bought a ticket. I was great to see so many happy faces and so many good bands.

"Can’t wait to do it all over again next year!"

Oxford Mail: