A great front man is a dictator, and Nick Cave is one of the best there is.
With unhinged intensity he whispered and bellowed the first songs at the front three rows of a packed, though not quite full, Hydro in Glasgow as though playing an intimate club show.
Then a few songs in he stretched out those bony preacher fingers and tugged the air. Hundreds of people followed his gesture, moving towards to the stage as one, mesmerised and pressing close, coming into his manic sphere of influence.
With grimacing, straining, sweating commitment he held us rapt for two hours, willing every beautifully timed syllable out as though composing them on the spot. It was mesmerising, bewitching and slightly unreal.
Backing band The Bad Seeds sounded amazing, reined-in and taut, only exploding into noisesome chaos briefly and with devastating effect. Cave too, not the strongest singer on his records, sang with surprising richness.
But along the way we got a fragile, broken Into My Arms, the crowd taking up the chorus with gentle, hymnal empathy, the air charged with sorrowful joy. The line 'I believe in love', a cliché in others' hands, became a defiant protestation of faith thrown out at the gathering darkness.
Red Right Hand was miraculously understated. It could so easily turn into an overblown carnival blast, but it was quiet, sinister, brooding, its skeezy, sleazy organ threateningly insinuating, the slick groove a lushly carpeted stairway to damnation.
The massive Hydro seemed an odd choice for someone like Cave, a determined indie oddball not given to lavish visuals or cynical profiteering. Not only did he do a better job of anyone I've ever seen of involving the whole hall through sheer force of personality, it became a bigger, more cathartic and more moving experience because twelve thousand people were there rather than twelve hundred.