With singer-songwriter Christine McVie no longer on board, the weight was more than ever on Lindsey Buckingham to play ringmaster over the famously disparate elements of the band. He said the four members agreed to "just go out there and have fun."
Augmented by five other instrumentalists and singers, they delivered on the promise. Buckingham was clearly the MVP, never leaving the stage for the more-than two-hour show and working up a sweat while singing and banging on his guitar.
He made songs such as Monday Morning, Go Your Own Way and his own Go Insane hard-driving and precise pop. He led the band in a dynamically delivered version of the strange Tusk.
It was plain from the beginning, though, that the killer rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass-the namesake and only constant thread in the 40-plus year band saga-are still the foundation of its sound.
Distinctive as the two were when the band played blues in the 1960s, they lent their stamp last night to The Chain and many more hits.
Buckingham mentioned the group's famed romantic entanglements. Last night that was evident as he and Stevie Nicks stood at opposite ends of the stage while the video screen artificially brought them within inches for dramatic effect.
More than once Buckingham carried the ball for Nicks, who looked half-awake. During Second Hand News she seemed to barely follow the tune's clip. During frequent trips to the dressing room she looked like she might fall off her high heels.
Introducing Gypsy with a nonsensical rap, Nicks suggested that San Francisco's "Summer of Love" and the Velvet Underground together inspired the song. (In reality, the two musical cultures were as far apart as the thousands of miles that separated their scenes.)
Still, Nicks' distance-and the three dresses, a half-dozen scarves, top hat and tambourine-didn't detract from a winning night of non-stop hits.
By Curtis Schieber, The Columbus Dispatch