Before the stage lights were even on, Christine McVie was already blowing kisses to a crowd that had spotted her in the darkness. They were big kisses, the kind meant to make up for lost time.
It had been 16 years since McVie had joined her bandmates in Fleetwood Mac on tour, and her return was cause for celebration. Yes, it meant more of her songs in the set list, but it also crystallized the fact that Fleetwood Mac has always been a group greater than the sum of its parts.
"On With the Show," as this reunion tour is called, came to a sold-out TD Garden Friday night. (It rolls back into town on Oct. 25, with limited tickets available.) They played for 2½ hours, and the fact that there weren't many deep cuts was a testament to just how hit-heavy their catalog is.
It was McVie's night, even with such blinding star wattage emanating from Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. After the opening "The Chain," McVie greeted fans first, with a spotlight briefly fixed on her. Next up was Nicks.
"I'd like to say one thing: Welcome back, Chris!" Nicks roared.
It was fascinating to witness the differences among the three principal songwriters, who anchored the front of the stage, with bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, the band's backbone, just behind them. (And then, even further back, were two auxiliary members on keyboards and guitar, respectively, and three backup singers.)
On "Gypsy," "Rhiannon," and "Sisters of the Moon," Nicks brought black magic and force, hitting her notes hard and letting her voice swell and glide. Her vocals on "Silver Springs" were remarkably untouched by time, and she got into character for "Gold Dust Woman," complete with a glittery gold shawl and some mystical dancing.
McVie, meanwhile, had a more elastic approach to her singing, imbuing "Over My Head" and "You Make Loving Fun" with sly understatement. She dedicated "Everywhere" to her bandmates, a poignant sentiment given the chorus: "I want to be with you everywhere." Nicks tapped her tambourine against McVie's maracas; it was the Fleetwood Mac equivalent of a fist bump.
Buckingham was in fine form, too, the guitar god who has no shame in letting you experience his prowess up close and personal. (He even leaned in to the audience during "Go Your Own Way" to let fans paw at his guitar.) His intensity raged on "Big Love" and "I'm So Afraid," the latter of which spiraled into a bluesy fever dream. No wonder he was out of breath by the end of it.
At piano, McVie played "Songbird" soft and sweet, with Buckingham reeling in the guitar pyrotechnics. His pronouncement from earlier in the evening, that Fleetwood Mac had begun a "profound new chapter," rang true.
Bidding farewell, McVie took two bouquets from the crowd, and all five members of the Mac linked arms. They hadn't always been one big happy family, but they were a family nonetheless.