BOSTON - Boston has been a city on edge, but Fleetwood Mac helped to take the edge off with a dazzling 2 1/2-hour show at the TD Garden on Thursday night.
While officers in a regional response team stood ready with assault rifles outside the venue in the wake of the Boston Marathon explosions, the legendary pop/rock group charmed a packed house of fans - mostly of the middle-aged variety - inside the Garden.
The group's 23-song show mixed classic hits with lesser-known material and two new songs off a forthcoming EP.
There were the time-tested Mac standards, including "Don't Stop," "Dreams" and the title track off of "Tusk," the 1979 album that subverted the formula of its wildly successful predecessor "Rumours," which has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide.
And there were the less typical live numbers, including "Not That Funny," a gorgeous "Sara" and the dark, moody "Sisters of the Moon."
This is the group's first tour in three years (they're set to return to the area on June 21 at the Comcast Center, and tickets are still available), but their sound remains crisp and their chemistry electric.
Fleetwood is the dependable yet zany drummer, and his solo during "World Turning" put the 65-year-old's youthful spirit on display. John McVie remains stoic on bass, taking the spotlight during rare but key moments, such as the sinewy interlude during "The Chain."
Lindsey Buckingham is the group's glue - Fleetwood called him "our mentor, our inspiration."
The singer/songwriter and guitarist performed masterfully throughout the night, especially on the acoustic stunner "Big Love" and a powerful "I'm So Afraid," which drew a standing ovation. He seemed almost as excited as the crowd at the end of songs, shouting and fist-pumping like he'd just won a competition, gray hair the only sign of his age.
Stevie Nicks remains the group's mystical chanteuse, taking center stage on classics like "Rhiannon," "Gold Dust Woman," "Silver Springs," "Landslide" and solo hit "Stand Back," bedecked with all the familiar accessories: a microphone draped in beads and scarves, a tambourine decorated with ribbons, layered black dresses, platform boots, shawls giving way to more shawls. Her voice was in fine form - the best she's sounded since 1997's "The Dance."
After the second encore, just before leaving the stage, Nicks called Boston "one of the strongest cities in the world."
"You're tough," she said. "You'll get through this, and next year your fantastic race will be run, like always."