Being a home-town favorite, rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon can always count on a warm reception when he performs in Washington. At the Bayou last night, several dozen people spent the evening at the foot of the stage bouncing to the jubilant beat of early country-rock rhythms. But anyone looking for something other than faithful reconstructions of past hits must have felt at least a little disappointed.

Gordon played it safe. He kept a tight leash on most of the songs, including rather stilted versions of "The Way I Walk" and "Twenty Flight Rock." Granted, everything he sang was stylistically correct; his rumbling baritone made the club seem even more cavernous than it is, and there wasn't a hiccup out of place. Yet such control had a price. The singer was halfway through his performance before the driving locomotion of "Mystery Train" suggested rockabilly's primitive power and energy.

Responsible for most of the evening's highlights was Gordon's fine trio. Throughout the set, lead guitarist Chris Spedding proved himself a worthy successor to Link Wray and Danny Gatton. Without Spedding's concise, often jagged leads, Gordon's show would surely have seemed even more tame and unconvincing.