The Stevie Nicks quintet returns with a 40-city tour

Stevie Nicks has to laugh. ”This really does remind me of me in 1969,” jokes pop’s premier gypsy, nervously eyeing the red drapery haphazardly hung with duct tape over the windows of a backstage trailer on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank.

The year that’s on a lot of other people’s minds this May 22 evening is 1982. That was when Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours-era lineup embarked on their last tension-riddled tour, five years before Lindsey Buckingham branched off (followed by Nicks and Christine McVie in 1990). Attempts by mainstays Mick Fleetwood and John McVie to keep the group going with lesser-known singers only diminished the value of the franchise. Now the money lineup is giving it another go — sans the intragroup drama that was the band’s blessing as well as its bane.

This time ’round, maybe for the first time, says Nicks, there’s ”a good feeling between all five of us, and that makes everything okay.” Including even the couple of flubs that occurred tonight as the reconstituted band taped its first full-fledged public performance in 15 years. The gig — the first of two recorded on a Warner soundstage — will yield an August MTV special and live album (followed by a 40-city U.S. tour starting in September).

Nicks is still upset she had to stop ”Dreams” twice because — in front of press and celebrities — she forgot the first verse of the supergroup’s sole No. 1 single. ”That has never happened to me,” she moans, ”not that bad…. We would’ve liked to play a couple real dates first, where it wasn’t ‘Oh, there’s Winona Ryder.”’

”Stevie, what about actors who have to do take after take?” reassures Christine McVie, sitting nearby. ”This is 15 years…. We definitely had the jitters.”

Nerves or no, the night brought good news: Nicks — whose pipes sounded shot on her last tour with Mac — has her voice back, allowing her to keep up again with Buckingham’s full-throttle intensity and McVie’s no-throttle soothingness. And though no studio album is planned (a Buckingham solo record with contributions from all four other members is ”85 percent done”), who knows how far this might go if they really can all just get along?

Buckingham says that going their own ways made hearts grow fonder, particularly between him and ex-paramour Nicks. ”There were issues with Stevie I couldn’t deal with till I left the band — which sounds ridiculous, since [she and I] broke up in ’77 and I left the group in ’87. But I came back a much more comfortable-with-myself person. Everyone’s gone that route. The chemistry’s there, without the baggage.”