Music: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Jonathan Geddes, Five stars

THERE are limits, even at a Nick Cave gig. “This is sexual harassment in the workplace” he growled during a sprawling Higgs Boson Blues, reacting to a fan who had got evidently carried away as the singer indulged in crowd-surfing. It was also the moment that confirmed that no matter the size of venue, the Australian’s power is undiminished.

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On paper, there were questions about the 60-year-old playing arenas, which are not exactly a natural habitat for his feral rock n’ roll, romantic ballads and, especially, the ambient electronica of last album Skeleton Tree. However those songs, here revamped by the typically outstanding Bad Seeds, fitted in perfectly with older material while carrying an emotional heft of their own, with the stirring romanticism of The Ship Song and Into My Arms effortlessly easing into Girl In Amber’s synths.

The personal trauma of the death of his son understandably looms over everything, and there was an unflinching, painful rawness to I Need You and Distant Sky, capped by Warren Ellis’ violin. Yet there was a playful nature to the overall set, with songs flitting from stark intimacy to bombastic grandeur. Cave is often more manic preacher than mere singer, and he was a rousing ringleader through the bass-led thump of Tupelo and a virulent Red Right Hand, theatrical showmanship tinged with chaos.

Then came an encore where he went walkabout in the crowd, roaring through The Weeping Song from among the masses and leading followers onstage to party to a frantic, foul-mouthed Stagger Lee. “Some people say it’s just rock n’ roll” he sang during Push The Sky Away, those stage invaders now sitting down. Cave and his posse remind us it is so much more.