"I'm going back to the city; I'm going back to the town," sang Mark Wenner with a joyful shout. The song is an original tune off the Nighthawks' week-old album, their first on a major label. Last night they came to the Bayou, back to the city that supported them for years as they learned the ins, the outs and the wherefores of the blues. They rewarded their loyal local fans with the sweet fruits of that education.

The rhythm supplied by drummer Pete Ragusa and bassist Jan Zukowski was as tight and resilient as a rubber band around the deck of crooked cards. Jimmy Thackery's guitar strokes were as sharp and surprising as a razor pulled out of a boot. Wenner's harmonica bursts were as hot and restless as the tailpipe on a racetrack stock car.

Though the quartet lacks a truly outstanding voice, each member sings with enough style to put the songs across. On Slim Harpo's "Baby, Scratch My Back," Wenner's harmonica and Thackery's guitar made sounds so human they could have been a man and woman squabbling. The show's highlight was a rock 'n' roll version of Larry Williams' "Slow Down" with the Beatles' full arrangement but better solos. The Nighthawks return to the Bayou tonight.