FLEETWOOD MAC at the Air Canada Centre, Tuesday, April 16. Rating: NNNN
Early in last night's Fleetwood Mac's concert, Lindsey Buckingham introduced a mini-set of songs from the California rock group's 1979 album Tusk - the experimental follow-up to their mega-selling Rumours LP - by explaining that the band has always worked to subvert the formulas record execs insisted they submit to.
But after 35 years of ups and downs, an inescapable formula prevails: the Mac remains a band of highly distinct musical personalities that offers a little something for everyone.
Now that singer Christine McVie has retired, the dynamic has refocused on singer Stevie Nicks and singer/guitarist Buckingham's tempestuous relationship. It's familiar subject matter for many, yet clearly still vital, as the band filled their two-hour-plus set with a virtuosic energy that tapped into the biting sentiment simmering beneath their deceptively pretty harmonies.
A trio of Rumours hits was a warm-up for new song Sad Angel, a rollicking countrified tune tailored to play up Buckingham's precision finger-picking - foreshadowing for his astonishing, five-minute solo during I'm So Afraid.
Clearly still basking in the recent critical re-appraisal of Tusk, they revived Not That Funny and Sisters of the Moon with pounding aggression. Nicks and Buckingham might sound huskier, their phrasing rougher, but their reverence for each other kept, oh say, a brilliant acoustic rendition of Landslide from careening into a phoned-in greatest hits trap.
If Fleetwood Mac has mastered another formula in their longevity, it is this: A band that still enjoys performing together will sound like one.