Musicians Glenn Frey, left, and Don Henley of the Eagles perform at Madison Square Garden on Friday in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK — Few surprises, if any, are left at an Eagles concert: The vintage music sounds are digitally crystal clear; the band members' voices remain strong through the long, high notes and harmonies. And it's hard to find a bad song on the set list.
The thrill isn't gone, mind you, just some of their grunge from the '70s.
The Eagles offered up "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and a string of other hits Friday night at Madison Square Garden, the first of three concerts in New York as part of their "History of the Eagles" tour. It coincides with this year's release of the documentary of the same name, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is now out on DVD.
With Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit and others, the band played through a series of rock classics and staples of radio when vinyl ruled: "Take It Easy," ''Take It To The Limit," ''The Long Run," ''I Can't Tell You Why," ''Tequila Sunrise" and, of course, "Hotel California" in all its guitar-heavy glory.
Forty years on, it is hard to get past the Eagles extensive and well-known catalog with words etched into our brains through endless airplay. Frey took note of the band's age when it came time for intermission: "Guys our age gotta go to the bathroom."
Hopefully, the band will eliminate the cheesy video that accompanied their road song "Already Gone." It featured Frey on a weird, cartoon-like journey in a convertible that felt too light for the song's message.
The more rocking songs of the two-hour set came courtesy of Walsh, the guitarist whose diverse career spawned the thumping "Rocky Mountain Way" and the riff-grinding "Funk #49." Plus, he brought along the anthem "Life's Been Good" and "In The City," a song connected to New York through its use in the gang film "The Warriors."
Those tracks, along with rapid-fire FM hits like "Life In The Fast Lane," provided enough balance to ensure the 28-song set list didn't end up entirely easygoing and mellow.
Maybe it's not such a bad thing, though, to be serenaded by a band known for several sweet-themed songs — made popular during some of the more tumultuous times in modern political history — as today's headlines focus on the future of health care, privacy and finances.
The Eagles play again Saturday and Monday in New York before performing about 10 more shows around the country and wrapping up in California.