With third record Given to the Wild, their clever, playful guitar sound has all but disappeared, the combo instead opting for more grandiose concoctions. The results, while uneven, got them a Mercury Prize nomination and their first trip to Toronto.
At their busy Canadian debut, the six-piece began atop a speed bump, contending with a muddy mix that obscured vocals throughout "William Powers" and turned "Feel to Follow" into a sonic bludgeoning.
With the band eventually smoothing out the sound, "Wall of Arms" was a party jam begun by a big kick drum and driven by an infectious, circular bass line. More importantly, Orlando Weeks' vocals finally broke through to supply the cut with its much-needed foundation before Ray Manzarek-style keys gave it a stirring finish.
Weeks was cordial throughout, apologizing for aborting an ill-fated "Grew Up at Midnight." Incidentally, on a second attempt it became one of the evening's highlights thanks to the juxtaposed falsetto and melodramatic percussion.
Older songs fared well, especially a singalong-aided "Precious Time" and a late-act "Toothpaste Kisses," which showed off the frontman's Garth Algar-style whistling prowess. Still, the band have matured considerably since then.
Thus, standouts were culled from the more recent catalogue, especially a towering "Go," which was at once intricate and grand, benefitting from a large, canned-drum intro and choral-vocal parts.
Shaky start and occasional feedback aside, the Maccabees played an amiable, occasionally thrilling gig dotted with fan-favourites and showing off the impressive live strength of later work.