The wide gap between the Eagles' enormous popularity and their negligible talent has long been a show-business paradox. The group's show at the Capital Centre last night only confirmed that contradiction. The sellout crowd gave ovations to the thinnest of harmonies and the most ordinary of solos.

The show opened with "Hotel California," which featured an arrangement of four guitars strumming the same rhythm chords. This droning went on so long that when the merely average guitar solos by Don Felder and Joe Walsh finally came, they sounded exciting by comparison. Felder proved the band's only gifted breaks stood out like oases in the desert.

The only vocalist in the band with any noticeable range was newcomer Timothy Schmit. Unfortunately, he got only one lead vocal -- on his own "I Can't Tell You Why." For most of the evening, Walsh, Don Henley and Glenn Frey sang with the range of sirens, the clarity of kazoos and the urgency of leftover oatmeal.

On songs like "Already Gone" and "Lyin' Eyes," their vocal harmonies consisted of four imprecise voices singing the same line. Henley's drumming displayed all the personality of an amplified metronome.

On old hits like "One of These Nights" and "Life in the Fast Lane," the band's attack on the simple chord changes is best described as relentless. The muddled sound wasn't helped by the addition of two rhythm players or the use of synthesized strings.

Some of the deadliest moments were the songs from their brand-new, No. 1 album, "The Long Run." Both the title tune and Walsh's "In the City" were somnolent visions of withdrawal as a survival tactic. Only their new single, "Heartache Tonight," displayed much energy.

The Eagles return to the Capital Centre tonight.