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Record Review 

Context is all. In the proper framework -- a sweat-drenched live show with his roadhorse outfit Gov't Mule -- Warren Haynes can be an electrifying performer, his fluid-yet-crunchy guitar work and fibrous vocal delivery solidifying a night of ballsy, blistery, Southern-fried rock. But as the self-explanatory Live at Bonnaroo makes clear, those strengths don't necessarily translate to an acoustic, singer/songwriter setting.

Not that Haynes doesn't give it a good shot. A veteran of the brawnier end of the jam band circuit, Haynes wisely plays to Bonnaroo's hackysack base early, knocking out his Jerry Garcia tribute "Patchwork Quilt" and "To Lay Me Down" (one of two Grateful Dead covers) after opening with a surprisingly faithful and impassioned cover of Radiohead's "Lucky" (from OK Computer). That trio gets the album off to a promising start, but a clunky cover of U2's "One" soon arrests any forward momentum.

After that, the focus settles on Haynes' gruffly sensitive voice and the songs themselves, which ultimately proves the album's undoing, as plaintive numbers like "I'll Be the One" and "Forevermore" show their formulaic roots. Only "Beautifully Broken," "Tastes Like Wine" and the lyrically facile "Soulshine" (featuring show-offy guest vocals from Vusi Mahlasela) offer temporary diversion in a sea of sameness. Doubtless this all sounded good surrounded by tens of thousands of captive audience members. But on disc, Bonnaroo suffers from a lack of muscular rhythm work and sinewy guitar workouts. Warren Haynes plays HiFi Buys Amphitheatre Thurs., Aug. 19, 6 p.m. $43.50-$53.50.

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