Lindsey Buckingham, not Nicks, carries Fleetwood Mac at Xcel Center

JON BREAM | Updated 4/29/2013

REVIEW: Live-wire Lindsey Buckingham, not croaky Stevie Nicks, carried Fleetwood Mac Sunday night at the X.

Lindsey Buckingham wore the exact same outfit again. Black leather jacket, black V-neck T-shirt, black boots and, presumably, the same bluejeans.

That’s what the rock star sported when he performed a solo concert in November at the Dakota Jazz Club, the most impersonal (and loudest) performance probably ever in that intimate space. On Sunday at the sold-out Xcel Energy Center, he gave one of the most impassioned performances ever in a Twin Cities arena, this side of Bruce Springsteen.

Oh, sorry, it wasn’t actually a Lindsey Buckingham show. It was Fleetwood Mac, the band that made him famous. But singer/songwriter/keyboardist Christine McVie retired in 1998 and Stevie Nicks — Buckingham’s former lover whose romance and breakup has been the subject of many of the band’s songs — needed a good half of Sunday’s 2 ½-hour show to warm up her voice.

Granted, her voice is lower, harsher and less fluid than before, but her versions of “Rhiannon” and “Sara” were so croaky and lifeless that she couldn’t have placed in the top 5 in a Stevie Nicks sound-alike contest.

Nicks, 64, finally found her voice for “Landslide,” a duet with Buckingham, his voice and acoustic guitar. After saying she usually dedicates the song each night to a family member, Nicks said on Sunday, it would be a rare dedication to her “one and only husband,” Minnesotan Kim Anderson, who was in the audience and, of course, is no longer her husband (they divorced after a short marriage; he was the widower of her best friend, who died of leukemia).

Nicks’ incurable romanticism has fueled her art and Fleetwood Mac. She got so inspired during “Landslide” on Sunday that at song’s end she and Buckingham blew kisses at one another. Of course, they followed that with a scorching “Never Going Back Again,” during which Buckingham sounded maniacally determined on vocals and guitar and Nicks offered credible vocal harmonies.

Although she did only a few slow-motion revolutions of the famous Stevie Nicks dervish dance, she hit her vocal stride, delivering “Gypsy” with conviction while facing drummer Mick Fleetwood (another of her exes).

She finally became the bewitching Nicks of yesteryear on “Gold Dust Woman,” investing the song with mystery, passion and her trademarked accouterments of shawls and scarves (the top hat would come later, thank you).

But while Nicks clearly was a favorite of the 16,000 fans on Sunday, it is Buckingham who elevates Fleetwood Mac into an exciting arena attraction 36 years after the blockbuster “Rumours” album made them one of the biggest bands of the 1970s. On Sunday, he was a live-wire ringmaster, a guitar monster, a heartfelt singer, a hammy performer and, as Mick Fleetwood put it, “our inspiration.”

With all of the Buckingham/Nicks soap-opera songs, the comforting, buoyant tunes (and sweet vocal harmonies) of McVie were missed. The band did her “Don’t Stop,” with Buckingham and Nicks alternating as lead singer on the verses. But this really was the Lindsey Buckingham Show.

Buckingham, 63, tried to provide context with his introductions to songs. For instance, he explained that “Big Love” was written as a “contemplation on alienation” but now he sees it as “a meditation” on change. Indeed, his transformation to de facto frontman of Fleetwood Mac has helped the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group maintain its magic.

Fleetwood Mac’s set list on Sunday:

Second Hand News/ The Chain/ Dreams/ Sad Angel (new) / Rhiannon/ Not That Funny/ Tusk/ Sisters of the Moon/ Sara/ Big Love/ Landslide/ Never Going Back Again/ Without You (Buckingham Nicks outtake)/ Gypsy/ Eyes of the World/ Gold Dust Woman/ I’m So Afraid/ Stand Back (Nicks solo hit)/ Go Your Own Way ENCORE 1 World Turning/ Don’t Stop ENCORE 2 Silver Springs/ Say Goodbye