TAMPA - Their fans may have been quite a bit younger when Fleetwood Mac hit the charts with one of music history's most renowned works some 40 years ago.
But the years have been kind for the '70s rock icons, who showed a nearly packed house of 14,071 at the Forum on Friday night why their popularity not only endured, but has attracted a new generation of loyalists.
Even the most casual fan could sense the close connection between Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, back together and promoting "Extended Play" - their first release in 10 years.
Fleetwood Mac told poignant, compelling stories within their lyrics. They opened up on stage, offering an important glimpse into the very personal side of why this foursome remains so ingrained in the spotlight.
Specifically, the connection between Buckingham and former girlfriend, Nicks, became apparent as the duo shared a hug following "Sara."
That propelled Buckingham into an introduction of "Big Love," in which he explained how this was a song about transition, contemplation and meditation that illustrated the "importance of change" - clearly an ode to his former romantic relationship with Nicks. What followed was an inspired acoustic solo that brought the crowd to its feet.
Nicks then gave a shout-out to a pair of friends before she and Buckingham paired on an emotional "Landslide."
The pair remained on stage as they recounted their journey to Los Angeles and introduction to the band in 1970. They told of a song on which they collaborated even before they knew of Fleetwood Mac, which had been "stolen" but was found online in 2011. "Without You," the primary vehicle in the new four-song EP, was a sweet duet that deftly showed the closeness they have maintained as they transitioned from romantic couple to close friends.
While they interacted and shared playful glimpses throughout the night, even holding hands twice to the crowd's delight as they returned to the stage, the show allowed the individual artists to spotlight their considerable talents.
Nicks, whose soulful voice belies her 65 years, set the stage by opening with a playful "Second Hand News" and spirited "The Chain."
She mesmerized with "Gold Dust Woman," emerging with a gold wrap and floating across the stage in one of her recognizable solo dances which she repeated during "Gypsy."
Nicks may be the recognizable face of the band, but Buckingham reminded fans of his considerable talent and why Fleetwood later introduced him as "our leader and inspiration."
Buckingham's guitar prowess was on full display during "I'm So Afraid" and "Go Your Own Way," and he set the tempo throughout as the band performed hit after hit from "Rumours," the 1975 album that launched them to stardom.
Fleetwood had his best moment during "World Turning," the first encore in which he toyed with the audience and launched into a drum solo that helped him work up a sweat and work the crowd into a frenzy.
But the band saved their most emotional moments for last. Nicks and Buckingham, again hand-in-hand, came out alone for a final encore that began with Nicks' heartfelt "Silver Springs" and ended with Buckingham sharing his philosophical thoughts on "discarding illusions in order to grow" and embracing "acceptance, faith and resolve" as they concluded with "Say Goodbye."
Hopefully for their fans, this wasn't a goodbye, but just a "so long" as they look ahead to the next great story in their legendary collaboration.