Stevie Nicks sounds exhilarated and exhausted.

She's thrilled to be on tour again with Fleetwood Mac and singer/keyboardist Christine McVie, who has rejoined after a 16-year retirement. But she sounds daunted by the band's schedule: 40 shows last fall, and now 40 more North American concerts, 20-some gigs in Europe and then possibly a tour of Australia.

"That is four shows a week, three hours a show. We are all over 65. That was a very difficult tour," said Nicks, whose band launched its On With the Show Tour in Minneapolis in September, and returns Friday to kick off the second leg of the tour at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center.

"It's not like you the watcher aren't going to think, 'They are great and they are strong and they are athletic.' But we hobble back to our rooms after the show is over and hot water bottles are being filled and everyone is going, 'I don't think I'll make it to the end of the week.' "

Nicks, 66, burst into laughter. She was merely explaining, not complaining. She's delighted to have McVie, who'd retired to the British countryside because of a fear of flying, as her bestie once again.

"When we went on the road, I realized what an amazing friend she'd been of mine that I had lost and didn't realize the whole consequences of it till now," Nicks said last week from New York City.

"She brings the funny back into Fleetwood Mac. Before, it was just a boys' club. With her back, there's more of a feminine touch to the whole thing. I never want her to ever go out of my life again, and that has nothing to do with music and everything to do with her and I as friends."

Of course, McVie's return brings back the three-part vocal harmonies from the band's blockbuster mid-1970s lineup, as well as six or seven songs including "You Make Lovin' Fun." Said Nicks: "When you feed those songs back into the set, you really make the set brighter and more sparkly."

The group did not have time during the tour break to rehearse new material, Nicks pointed out, because guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie had to spend Christmas with their kids.

When Christine McVie rejoined the band last year, there were some rehearsals to develop new material, but a record has been put on a back burner. The plan is to just get through the tour and then see what happens.

Things are going well for the famously fractured group, Nicks said: "It's very focused, noses to the grindstone. We take really good care of ourselves. Nobody's going to the bar; nobody's partying. In fact, nobody's hardly coming out of their room."

She's giggly; he's serious

How is she getting along with Buckingham, her onetime lover and longtime bandmate even before Fleetwood Mac?

"My relationship with Lindsey is not different than it's ever been," Nicks said. "Our relationship has always been difficult. It was difficult three years before we joined Fleetwood Mac [in 1975]. In the long run, Lindsey and I are very, very different people. I'm kind of a giggly girl and he's a real serious guy. That's exactly who we were and exactly who we are now.

"We disagree on just about everything. We don't really have arguments. I know how he feels about something because someone else will tell me. He knows how I feel because someone else tells him. We don't confront each other. We don't ever want that to go onstage. We don't ever want to get in the boxing ring."

In concert, there is a special chemistry between the two, which was noticeable when she hit a high note on the word "snow" in "Landslide" at Target Center last year and they exchanged glances that said, "Wow!"

"Most people start lowering the keys as you get older. I do a vocal lesson that's 27 minutes and then a half-hour later it's 11 more minutes every night before I go onstage," Nicks explained. "On times like that when I'm going up for that 'snow' note, I'm really using my technique. It blows my mind every night, and I think it blows his mind, too.

"That high, high note was not on the record. Not only is it a good singing moment, but it's a little bit of a comedy moment for us, too."

New solo album

Still, there must be some kind of tension, creative or otherwise, between the two. When asked about Buckingham's reaction to her new solo album, "24 Karat Gold," released during the fall tour, Nicks sounded resigned.

"He saw me do 'Lady' on Jimmy Fallon, which was written about us. He knew the song because he was there when I wrote it. He said, 'I thought you performed it beautifully.' That's really the only thing he's said about the record. I don't even know if he's even listened to it."

Maybe he's shying away because several of the songs are about him.

All of the pieces are old, written between 1969 and '87. For one reason or another, they never fit on an album by Nicks, Fleetwood Mac or their old duo, Buckingham Nicks.

Owing Warner Bros. Records one more solo album, she made this one quickly — at least by her standards. It usually takes her more than a year to record an album, but "24 Karat Gold" was done in about three months in Nashville and Los Angeles. However, she hasn't had a chance to promote the album or perform the songs live because of her Fleetwood Mac commitments.

"It's almost like [the album] didn't exist," she said. "That's sad for me. I think it's one of the best records I've ever made, and I could not be more proud of it."

Also last fall, Fleetwood, who co-founded the band in 1967 in England, published his second memoir, "Play On: Now, Then and Fleetwood Mac." Nicks said she didn't bother to read it — she lived it.

She would never do a tell-all memoir, she explained.

"I will write a vignette book someday where I go into separate experiences that I loved," the singer said. "I also want to make a [TV] series or movie of the mythological stories of Rhiannon, which I've been trying to do since I signed with Atlantic in 1980, which was in my contract.

"That's like 100 years ago. I haven't had the time to put the time into it."

Twitter: @JonBream • 612-673-1719