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CONCERTS

ItÕs nearly fall, and the summer doldrums have turned into a feast of riches in the bay area arts world, from Yo-Yo Ma and The Color Purple to Metallica and U2, plus a range of luminous art exhibits. We asked our critics to share the five shows they most look forward to in stage, music and art Ñ not necessarily the biggest or the best, but those worth your time and precious dollars.

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Who will make your ears bleed faster: Metallica or Miley Cyrus? Who will wear more makeup: KISS or the Killers? Who will be happier: people who see David Foster & Friends or people who get a root canal? There are myriad questions looming over this stuffed fall concert season. But there are five things we know for sure, and that's the must-see shows coming to Tampa Bay:

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1 Shooter Jennings

Sept. 24;The Ritz Ybor, 7 p.m. $20 advance, $22 at the door; (813) 247-2555

Yeah, yeah, I know: I hype this guy all the time. But that's because Shooter is (1) really flippin' good and (2) willing to burn down Nashville and recast it in his pappy's outlaw image.Playing with JJ Grey and Mofro plus Earl Greyhound, Waylon's boy will unload hellbilly with grit, fight and curious clouds of curiouser tobacco.

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2 Metallica

Oct. 3; St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, 7 p.m. $52.25-$72.25; (813) 301-2500; sptimesforum.com

There are very few absolutes in life. You will always regret eating Taco Bell before a flight. You will always spill guacamole on your rent-a-tux. And you will always have fun at a metal show. The L.A. hellraisers in Metallica have been bludgeoning fans for 28 years. They're good at their jobs. They're loud at their jobs, too. Die! Die!

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3 U2

Oct. 9; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, 7 p.m. $30-$250; toll-free 1-877-598-8698

The morning after this show, I have to walk a mile in high heels for charity. That's a broken ankle for sure, right? And yet, I wouldn't think of missing the most anticipated concert of 2009. Bono & Co. are experimenting with something called "360 degree staging." Whatever. If they play Bad, I'm happy . . . until I crack my fibula the next day.

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4 The Neville Brothers

Oct. 18; Coachman Park, Clearwater, 8 p.m. Free. clearwaterjazz.com

The sibling prides of Nawlins - from Cyril's funky percussion to Aaron's jailbird-angel croon - will close out this year's Clearwater Jazz Holiday with a fiery flourish. That crowd doesn't need an excuse to get loose, so expect a very hot, happy party.

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5 Leonard Cohen

Oct. 19; St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, 8 p.m. $46.75-$250; (813) 301-2500; sptimesforum.com

The Canadian singer-songwriter turns 75 on Monday. He hasn't toured the States in 15 years. And the penner of such brutally honest love exhumations as Hallelujah, Suzanne and Bird on a Wire (once covered by the Neville Brothers) isn't exactly a chart-topper. And yet, such is his mystique, his allure, he's playing the Times Forum. Honestly? I can't wait.

Oh, and we kid because we love: KISS (Oct. 21), David Foster (Oct. 30) and Miley Cyrus (Dec. 1) all play the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. The Killers are at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa Oct. 2.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.

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