Babe Ruth: City Hall, Salisbury

IT’S BEEN a traumatic time for Babe Ruth. With an extensive British tour looming they lost bassist Dave Hewitt and singer Jenny Haan, the last of the founder members of the group, and they found a replacement girl singer — Ellie Hope — with less than a week to go before the tour opened.

Their Salisbury City Hall concert last Wednesday was only the third with the new line-up — Ray Knott is now the group’s bass player — but there were remarkably few rough edges to be seen or heard. Ellie Hope took a couple of songs to get her voice in tune with the band but she proved that she has the power and the stage presence to take over where Jenny left off and inject her own character into the role. Behind her the band drove along with a resolution that set the initially suspicious audience dancing contentedly.

The determined spirit of Babe Ruth is epitomised by guitarist Bernie Marsden who is now the musical focus of the band. He’s a guitarist of the old school who uses plenty of treble to put his licks across.

The band did a number of new songs from a forthcoming album as well as selections from their recent Stealin’ Home and a couple of old favourites. It was the newer numbers that seemed to generate the most enthusiasm among the band and, with a new direction generated by personnel changes, now might be the time to drop some of the older standards like ‘Wells Fargo’ which they did for an encore but which didn’t begin to match the stomping ‘Say No More’ which closed the show.

It’s still too early to speculate on whether the new-look Babe Ruth will make the break-through that eluded the old band but the sparks are undoubtedly there and the band know that after four albums and limited success changes have to be made.

© Hugh FielderSounds, 6 March 1976

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