Oasis, Wembley Arena, London, 17-10-08

I have waited what seems like forever. It's hard to imagine why, after being a fan for 14 years, since I heard their first single, I could possibly have waited this long to see Oasis play live. They are, after all, considered one of England's greatest live bands. Their gigs, whether they be in clubs, theatres, arenas or stadia, sell out instantly. Perhaps I was on some level wary of the kind of crowd I might encounter. I'd heard horror stories of drunken thugs punching strangers, throwing bottles of piss around venues, a rowdy violent atmosphere. They seem to attract the most base of audiences. In many ways their gigs are like being at a football match - but I love football, attending matches whenever I can, and over the last decade or so no band has meant more to me. Maybe there is no real reason why I had failed to see them play until last night.

As a fan of many varied artists I find that only Oasis and Morrissey provoke the kind of blank hatred that I've been at the receiving end of recently. People really hate Oasis. For their shameless purloining, for their predictable musical style, for their unashamed arrogance. U2 aside, I often like bands who sell about eight records and are a well kept secret. Or bands who have long since ceased to be. Mainstream, the word and notion itself, is a profanity to me, pretentious as that is. But I just get this band and always have. I'm sure part of this is tied in with my dad, who gets them as I do. His record collection mostly contains artists no-one has ever heard of but, like me, Oasis are his concession to the mainstream. We get them together. Like our support of Man City, Oasis are our team. The football analogies hardly end there. The tribalism, the singalong, the joyful aggression were all there in spades last night. This band occupies an important part of the English psyche. This band matter to an entire generation in a way that no other English band of the last 30 years has. Their songs defined my teens and took me into my twenties. We support them like our football teams.

As I have gotten older I think I have become more emotional. I couldn't help but be consumed by the occasion and I can honestly say I've never been so moved at a concert by the sheer force of those around me. Most bands who've made a few albums have built up their catalogue and the audience's mood goes up and down depending on the setlist choice, the pace of the show and the newer material. Everyone waits for songs they know, songs that grew up with them. But Oasis still make albums that matter to their audience - having been to many gigs like this I'm accustomed to the crowd taking a breather or a drinks break when the new songs get rolled out. Sure, the older songs - Slide Away, Rock N Roll Star, Morning Glory, The Masterplan, Lyla - provoked hysteria but it's a fair assumption that virtually everyone in the arena owns a copy of the new album and has already started to learn it. Previous albums have had too much filler and everyone knows it, as evidenced by the fairly muted reception to The Meaning of Soul from the last album. This time the new songs fitted in just perfectly - I'm Outta Time, Shock of the Lightning, Falling Down - and were welcomed like old friends.

With Oasis, unlike any other band at this level, there is no show to speak of. There's some run of the mill lighting, four strip screens behind the band showing either them or nice enough, but not thrilling, psychedelic imagery. That's it. The songs sell the show, Noel knows they are strong enough to just stand there and blast it out. New drummer Chris Sharrock - former member of the Icicle Works, The La's and the Lightning Seeds - is perhaps the best drummer they've had. A combination of the complex but light touch of Alan White and the powerful but showy Zak Starkey, better suited to his current job in The Who, he played like he'd always been there even though he only made his debut in August. A guitarist on bass, Andy Bell, gives the band a live complexity they have never had but perhaps the unsung hero is the superb Gem Archer. You hear some solos and you think, Noel's playing great tonight. Then you realise it's Gem playing. Noel still seems a tiny bit subdued, not quite recovered from the broken ribs sustained in Toronto recently. But he's a tenacious, stubborn, determined man and didn't baulk from the business of his own vocals. He gave a tenderness to The Masterplan and Don't Look Back in Anger that reduced me to tears.

Liam, on the other hand, is as he always is. Love him or hate him he provokes a reaction. He stalks the stage like a caged tiger, saying almost nothing intelligible to the audience but his voice was utterly perfect. He's all attitude and he gets on people's nerves. But greeted like a working class hero, the offspring of Lennon and Lydon, there's no-one quite like him. England has a dearth of pathetic wannabes fronting bands like the Kaiser Chiefs and Kasabian. They worship Liam but they are mortals compared to him. He was born to do this. Well, this or robbing cars in Manchester.

Each song was greeted like an old friend. On many occasions I stopped singing and just turned round to see every single human in the place with rapturous delight on their faces, singing their hearts out. It was the very best kind of communal concert experience. People swayed and linked arms to Wonderwall, jumped and barged and clung on to Cigarettes and Alcohol. I can forgive the slightly bizarre exclusion of Live Forever, even. As the house lights came on and the beaming, sweaty masses made their way out of the venue I felt like a pummeled piece of meat, tenderised by the silver hammer of this proud band. Aching and happy, I limped out of the venue as the exit music played. A final smile spread across my face as I realised it was our - mine, dad's and the Gallagher's - football team's anthem playing. Blue Moon.