Two songs into Thursday’s Fleetwood Mac concert, Stevie Nicks related a conversation she once had with her mother. What could she do to help, Nicks asked, in hard times? Her mother’s response: Sing. A simplistic solution, perhaps, but mere days after the Marathon bombing (and hours before the chaotic manhunt for the suspects would shut the city down), 2½ hours of music seemed to serve the near-sellout TD Garden crowd just fine.
In that time, Fleetwood Mac (who swing back around to the Comcast Center on June 21) covered quite a bit of ground: hits, a told-you-so segment focused on the once-misunderstood/now-cultishly-adored “Tusk,” a song that so predated Nicks’s and Lindsey Buckingham’s Mac days that they’d forgotten about it until stumbling across the demo on YouTube and a new song. And more hits. So many hits.
And only one of them — the optimistic “Don’t Stop,” inevitable even before the week’s events — by Christine McVie, who hamstrung the set list by having annoyingly left the band 15 years ago. But it was hard to know what would have been cut to make room for her. Buckingham spat through the clamorous new wave garage rock of “Not That Funny” with vigor and rode out the pained, lumbering “I’m So Afraid” with an increasingly intense guitar solo. “Sara” found Nicks singing to Buckingham, then taking his microphone before peeling off into a small but sweet dance with him.
Save for the riff setting up the coda of “The Chain,” bassist John McVie did all he could to avoid calling attention to himself. Mick Fleetwood took a drum solo during “World Turning,” but he hardly needed it; the off-kilter thumps pushing each song forward and the fervor with which he attacked them were spotlight enough. He seemed to know it, too, capping a ferocious “Tusk” — its glowering paranoia writ arena-sized — by leaping to his feet and throwing his arms into the air.
But songs like that one, “Big Love,” and “Gold Dust Woman” notwithstanding, Fleetwood Mac wasn’t just about tension. Buckingham and Nicks harmonized ebulliently on the chorus of the fine, upbeat new “Sad Angel,” while the rolling drums gave “Eyes of the World” a headlong drive. And the elegiac “Silver Springs” helped draw the show to a close with its slow rise and reset, and slow rise again. As Fleetwood Mac knows quite well, singing together can get people through plenty of difficulty.