Oasis & Kasabian, Heaton Park, Manchester, 06-06-09

Oasis are my dirty, mainstream, secret. In the centre of my alphabetically arranged CD library of self-confessed musical snobbery lurks Nick Drake and Odetta - sandwiched between is the canon of, The Smiths aside, Manchester's finest band. I can't deny that the initial connection that spurred the beginning of my devotion to this band 15 years ago is linked to my genetic gift of football team. They are 'our band', between my Dad and I; just as City are our (and their) team.

Despite this, being decidedly a person who seeks out neither endless amounts of booze nor the opportunity for a fight, I had not ventured into the football match atmosphere of an Oasis gig until last autumn at Wembley Arena. It had been a powerful, aggressive, emotional night and I had to see them in my hometown, in the muddy expanse of Heaton Park.

I can see both sides. If you’re not on their track they’re arrogant, boorish oafs with derivative songs and embarrassingly simple lyrics. If you do get it, their songs puncture you, bringing either a full-throated joyous rejection of the constraints of conformity or tears to your eyes. This is your life’s soundtrack. As individuals, they are everyman, never changing into something you can’t identify with. Indeed, never changing at all. Oasis are your football team, if they scored 10 heavenly team goals in each game.

But, in front of a hits-and-singles tolerant crowd covered in beer (and worse), it was hard to evaluate what it is that has set them apart. The sound swirled in the wind and the mostly drunk crowd sang each word above the sound of the band. What you can surmise is that this band knows what they are doing when they deliver a concert experience to their crowd, a group always on the edge of hugging or having a fight. The setlist was well chosen, drawn mostly from their first two and most recent albums. Now with Gem Archer (Heavy Stereo), Andy Bell (Ride, Hurricane #1), Chris Sharrock (Lightning Seeds, Robbie Williams) and Jay Darlington (Kula Shaker) on board, the Mancs have assembled a fairly accomplished and well travelled set of musicians. As a result they have moved beyond the plodding, limited, rock they were guilty of a decade or so ago. Noel has, in a Pete Townshend style, now constructed himself as the leader. Liam is effortless; behaving as if he were a singer with a lesser ego, seemingly happy to saunter on and off stage, allowing Noel what must now be termed as co-lead singer duties.

But a reminder of what Noel can never achieve comes in the form of Wonderwall, which the elder Gallagher used to sing live. Now wrestled back into Liam’s domain it becomes the song that it was originally and the song that it’s meant to be. In some ways the show seems like a glorified sing-along, but there is a joy in being surrounded by smiling faces celebrating these unbeatable songs. Oasis occupy a unique place in the English psyche. The songs speak of freedom and it's something that mid teens to mid 30s, strive to feel. By coming along and singing, letting it out, it means everything. Like winning the weekend match, it makes work bearable on Monday. There’s no greater secret to it and no-one does it better.

Watching the fairly average Kasabian before the main event only compounded it. They’re not bad, exactly. They do have three or four good songs. They’re just not as good as they think they are and their arrogance, somehow charming when Oasis employ it, is wearing. Against a lesser band Kasabian might seem to have something to offer. Last night it was, well, like watching United play Barcelona. Outclassed.