Coldplay Air Canada Centre, Toronto ON July 23

Coldplay Air Canada Centre, Toronto ON July 23
In the Friends episode, "The One Where Ross Got High," Rachel added a layer of beef to a sweet trifle. Scarfing it down, Joey wisely pointed out: "What's not to like? Custard: good. Jam: good. Meat: good!" An insightful dessert evaluation, it also works as a decent rubric for looking at Coldplay's current live setup.

For their latest arena tour, the band have done their homework, mining a pretty broad range of tried-and-true big-concert approaches. Flaming Lips-style confetti cannons: good. An Arcade Fire-aping, in-crowd performance: good. An Axl Rose-inspired piano on wheels: good!

Of course, U2 still lurked in the shadows, from the Edge-y guitar work on cuts like "Major Minus" and "Lovers in Japan" (see "Where the Streets Have No Name") to the Larry Mullen, Jr. drums of "God Put a Smile on Your Face."

Newer material, especially when it leaned heavily on pre-programmed pop accoutrement (notably the virtual Rihanna appearance on "Princess of China"), often sat incongruently beside older work like "Warning Sign" creating an odd type of nostalgia for, um, Coldplay.

Nevertheless, Mylo Xyloto isn't a complete departure and tracks like "Paradise" -- a mid-tempo grower with a couldn't-miss sing-along section -- fared particularly well. More importantly, the record's Day-Glo aesthetic has given the tour its identity.

A massive stage backed by neon graffiti, surrounded by gigantic screens, and stretching and lit like a runway -- albeit a runway modelled on a guitar -- the layout is unsurprisingly grand. Though, it was the infusion of new technology that made it impressive.

Giving attendees light-up wristbands -- worn en masse and synchronized to the music -- the packed ACC looked like a humungous Christmas tree. Moreover, it had an inclusive effect that only seemed gaudy until it began.

Still, punters paid for the hits, and "Clocks," "The Scientist" and "Fix You" were dolled out in timely, arena-effective fashion. And the recent "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" provided a ready-made closer. Wristbands aside, a Coldplay gig isn't going to break any major ground, but, like Friends, its inherent affability works every time.