Getty Images/Kevin Winter
Lesson one at a Morrissey show: Hug gently.
After canceling three previously scheduled concerts in the Bay Area, Morrissey opened his U.S. tour Wednesday night at the intimate City National Civic in San Jose.
Despite actually showing up, looking and sounding fit, and performing new songs with names like "Earth is The Loneliest Planet of All" and "World Peace is None of Your Business" (the latter the title of his next album), all anyone has been able to talk about afterwards is how the concert ended.
The 20-song set was cut short just moments before the likely organic ending of the show when the British singer was ushered offstage by his security team after a flurry of fans risked their safety to run onstage and touch him.
Thursday morning, NBC Bay Area reported the story with the headline 'Singer Morrissey Tackled to Ground.' Watch the video in the above link and decide for yourself, but from our vantage point in the balcony, it looked like he had more of a stumble before being swiftly whisked offstage by his security team.
'Morrissey ATTACKED On Stage During San Jose Concert,' crowed gossip site TMZ, a certain exaggeration of the people who lightly hugged him.
The way the show concluded was nothing new and part of the Morrissey charm. Morrissey has drawn ardent fans worldwide since debuting as the frontman of The Smiths in 1982. We first saw The Smiths play Berkeley's Greek Theatre in 1986, which was the first time we witnessed the stage invasion of fans who just wanted to be close to Morrissey, a sport that builds and builds until the finale.
Though his lyrics spoke (and still speak) of impossible loneliness, he has always been lavished with intense affection by fans at concerts.
He's often egged it on, too. One show we saw in Los Angeles in 1992 ended with riot police after he enticed the audience to leave their seats and get closer to him. And, Wednesday night, after a particularly lukewarm audience reaction to a new song, he asked, "Did you feel anything? What was it like?"
Morrissey's security team in San Jose were all wearing team shirts with his name on the front and the number 59 on the back. The enviably extensive merchandise table also had a shirt with his face and the words Salford 59ers in a design meant to evoke the San Francisco 49ers.
These guys, like everyone who has worked for Morrissey over the past, oh, quarter century, are totally prepared to quarterback the stage invasion when fans defy gravity and pain to get on stage and give him a little hug. If you watch that video, you'll see him smile after one guy gets his shirt torn off his body before getting that hug.
The fans can't be blamed for trying to touch the music icon for what could be the last time. When the show ended, Morrissey was singing, "Someday Goodbye Will Be Farewell."