Fleetwood Mac's latest road show could be dubbed the "no more drama" tour. The veteran rock group, as famous at one time for its complex offstage relationships as its string of pop-rock hits, has mellowed over time, says the group's co-founder and drummer, Mick Fleetwood.
"Things are different now," says Fleetwood, who performs with the band at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 13, at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall as part of its Unleashed: Hits Tour 2009.
"We survived, in many ways against all odds, in terms of being a band."
Joining Fleetwood on stage will be four-fifths of its most famous lineup, including singer Stevie Nicks and her long-ago ex-boyfriend, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, and bassist John McVie.
Sitting out the proceedings is Christine McVie, the ex-wife of John and the writer of "Don't Stop," among other of the band's hits, who no longer tours or performs.
"It's such a funny bunch of people - it's such a non-corporate-run band," Fleetwood says. "It's all run on really deep emotions - and I mean deep - people who have been in and out of love with each other in the most serious fashion."
Those deep emotions are never far beneath the surface, since they're part of the band's catalog, notably its 1977 mega-hit, "Rumours." The album chronicled the betrayals and misunderstandings surrounding the break ups of the McVies and Buckingham-Nicks; Warner Bros. this summer is planning to re-release the record as a boxed set.
"It's not like a bunch of lads, who maybe don't get along that great but make great music," Fleetwood says of the band. "It's got to be finely tuned. When it is, we're really happy with how it's sitting."
That's not to say the Mac, which for the first time in its four decades isn't touring behind a new record, is coasting. As Fleetwood sees it, the band members are focusing their energies on the performances, rather than their personal interactions.
"It's all about that two-and-a-half hours on stage," he says.
"First of all, we're all pretty much in our 60s now. It's all about staying healthy as you can. I think the band is playing better than ever. I don't know why, but by all accounts I'm busting my drums better than before."
Although the setlist surveys Fleetwood Mac's biggest hits - including "The Chain," "Don't Stop," "Rhiannon," "Go Your Own Way," "Gypsy" and "Landslide" - the absence of new material has made room for lesser-known tracks. The latter includes "Oh, Well," which pre-dates the mid-'70s start of the Buckingham-Nicks Mac era, and "Storms" from 1979's highly experimental "Tusk," a song that had never previously been performed live.
"There's sort of a warm blanket that's around the audience and the band," Fleetwood says. "We're blessed that our audience has definitely come out when we do go on tour, which is really not that often."
The band also has come to terms with the absence of McVie, who sat out a 2004 tour and doesn't seem inclined to return to the fold again.
"In truth, she doesn't like flying, and she - out of all of us - she was a great band member, but she was completely about getting up and cooking breakfast, so all these years in show biz, were probably quite alien to her," Fleetwood says. "She had just had enough. She's a fantastic songwriter, and has left her legacy with us forever."
Her absence on the previous tour proved especially difficult for Nicks, whom Fleetwood praises as being a "real team player," despite her highly successful solo career.
"You have to give (Stevie) her just desserts," he says. "She is such a team player. She really, really joins the band when she comes back. There is no diva in her."
At the core of the band's tangled web of relationships are the interactions between Nicks and Buckingham, the band's de-facto musical leader and a solo artist in his own right.
When the former lovers get along, it's so much the better for the Mac - and its future. Fleetwood, for one, hopes to return to the recording studio at some point.
"Not to negate John and myself - as a rhythm section - but unless you have a happy front line, you don't have s--t," he says. "It's not rocket science."
Hits Tour 2009
WHEN:8 p.m. Saturday,
WHERE: Boardwalk Hall,
HOW MUCH:Tickets, priced at $49.50, $79.50 and $149.50, are available at the Boardwalk Hall box office or Ticketmaster at 800-736-1420 or
Fleetwood Mac setlist
"Monday Morning" (from "Fleetwood Mac," 1975)
"The Chain" ("Rumours," 1977)
"Dreams" ("Rumours," 1977)
"I Know I'm Not Wrong" ("Tusk", 1979)
"Gypsy" ("Mirage," 1982)
"Go Insane" (Lindsey Buckingham's "Go Insane," 1984)
"Rhiannon" ("Fleetwood Mac," 1975)
"Second Hand News"
"Tusk" ("Tusk," 1979)
"Sara" ("Tusk," 1979)
"Big Love" ("Tango In the Night," 1987)
"Landslide" ("Fleetwood Mac," 1975)
"Never Going Back Again" ("Rumours," 1977)
"Storms" ("Tusk," 1979)
"Say You Love Me" ("Fleetwood Mac," 1975)
"Gold Dust Woman"
"Oh Well" ("Then Play On," 1969)
"I'm So Afraid" ("Fleetwood Mac," 1975)
"Stand Back" (Stevie Nicks' "The Wild Heart," 1983)
"Go Your Own Way"
"World Turning" ("Fleetwood Mac," 1975)
"Don't Stop" ( "Rumours," 1977)
"Silver Springs" (recorded for "Rumours")