Nov. 3-4 at Xcel Energy CenterFinally. After 25 years. That's three lifetimes in a pop music career. Madonna last performed in the Twin Cities in 1987. She's coming back to prove that she's mother superior to all of today's female pop stars. She'll reach back to "Like a Prayer" but also offer plenty of her more recent stuff in what has been described as a thematic show that travels from darkness to light.
$47-$357, ticketmaster.comCLASSIC ROCKERS
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: A same-old, same-old concert would be fine for most Boss fans. However, he significantly remade the band this year with Clarence Clemons' nephew Jake on sax and an expanded back line of horn players and backup singers. With the new album "Wrecking Ball" adding fuel, look for more of a fiery gospel tone to the usual 2 1/2-hour-plus Bruceathon.
Nov. 11-12, Xcel Energy Center, $68-$98, ticketmaster.com
Bob Dylan: Forget Mr. Tambourine Man. He's a piano man, reimagining songs from one of the greatest catalogs of the past 50 years. Sometimes you recognize the tunes, sometimes you don't. He might even throw in a new number from "Tempest," which comes out Tuesday. This will be his first Twin Cities concert since Election Day 2008. He's here the day after this year's big vote, so he may offer cryptic commentary. Opening is Mark Knopfler, the Brit accused of sounding like Dylan when he emerged with Dire Straits.
Nov. 7, Xcel Energy Center, $50-$129.50, ticketmaster.com.
Also: Rush (Sept. 24, Target Center), Jackson Browne (Oct. 28, State Theatre); the Who's "Quadrophenia" tour (Nov. 27, Target Center).NEW FACES
Michael Kiwanuka: This London-based son of Ugandan immigrants has been getting love locally from 89.3 the Current and Cities 97 with his soulful ditty "Home Again." Onstage, his Bill Withers-smooth voice is nicely complemented by a Jack Johnson-like hippie acoustic vibe.
Sept. 28, Fine Line, $15, eTix.com
Also: Cloud Nothings (Sept. 16, Amsterdam Bar & Hall); Alt-J (Sept. 22, Triple Rock); Ed Sheeran (Sept. 26, State Theatre); Kimbra (Oct. 16, Varsity Theater).BUZZ BIN
Beach House: Theirs is the gray-day, hurts-so-good album of the year, a gorgeously somber electro-pop record called "Myth" that was a perfect antidote to dumb summer music. Ethereal-voiced singer Victoria Legrand and her Baltimore-based partner, Alex Scully, could have 'em crying on the dance floor at this one.
Oct. 9, First Avenue, $22, eTix.com
Also: Metric (Tue., State Theatre); Antibalas (Tue., First Ave); Kendrick Lamar (Sept. 21, Epic); Glen Hansard (Sept. 29, First Ave); Esperanza Spalding (Sept. 30, State Theatre); Grizzly Bear (Oct. 1, First Ave); Gossip (Oct. 6, Fine Line); the XX (Oct. 19, First Ave); Heartless Bastards (Oct. 21, First Ave); Allen Stone (Nov. 2, Fine Line); Bassnectar (Nov. 3, Target Center); Eilen Jewell (Nov. 8, Dakota); Japandroids (Dec. 14-15, Triple Rock).COUNTRY BIG-WIGS
Carrie Underwood: After recent shows at the State Fair and Mystic Lake's amphitheater, the country princess will bring her full production to a Twin Cities arena. In the past, we've missed things like Underwood singing while flying over the crowd in a pickup truck. Her Blown Away Tour has played England and Australia, offering a set peppered with her 13 No. 1 singles.
Sept. 27, Target Center, $44-$64, ticketmaster.com
Also: Willie Nelson (Sept. 19, Vetter Stone Amphitheater, Mankato); Dwight Yoakam (Sept. 29, Grand Casino Hinckley); Vince Gill (Oct. 13, State Theatre); Dierks Bentley (Nov. 10, Treasure Island Casino); Zac Brown Band, (Nov. 10 Target Center).GEN-X NOSTALGIA TRIPS
Afghan Whigs: The grunge era's dark soul rebels kicked off their first round of shows in 11 years this spring, earning resounding raves. Led by fiery howler Greg Dulli and anchored by Minneapolis' Rick McCollum on guitar, the Cincinnati-reared quartet saved the most intimate stop on its reunion tour for Twin Cities fans
Oct. 28, Varsity Theater, $37.50, Ticketfly.com
Also: Joan Osbourne (Thu.-Fri. Dakota Jazz Club); Bob Mould doing "Copper Blue" (Sept. 15, First Ave); Jesus & Mary Chain (Sept. 18, First Ave); Mission of Burma (Sept. 27, 400 Bar); Morrissey (Oct. 29, Orpheum); Alanis Morissette (Oct. 12, State Theatre); Old 97's doing "Too Far to Care" (Oct. 18, First Ave); Dinosaur Jr. (Oct. 18, Cabooze); Smashing Pumpkins (Oct. 20, Roy Wilkins Auditorium); Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Oct. 22, Triple Rock); Red Hot Chili Peppers (Oct. 30, Target Center).MADE IN MINNESOTA
Brother Ali: The biggest of the many big album-release parties by local artists this fall won't just be a celebration of "Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color," the Minneapolis Muslim dad rapper's fourth album, due Sept. 18. It's also the first chance for hometown fans to hear him with his new five-piece backing band, Blank Tape Beloved.
Oct. 5, First Avenue, $15, eTix.com
Also: "Twin Cities Funk & Soul: Lost R&B Grooves, 1964-1979" party (Sept. 22, Cedar Cultural Center); Mint Condition (Sept. 28, First Ave); Owl City (Oct. 4, First Ave); P.O.S. (Oct. 26, First Ave); Night Moves (Nov. 16, 7th Street Entry).SMART PAIRINGS
Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen: On Bieber's latest smash album, "Believe," the 18-year-old pop heartthrob sounds like he's growing up a bit. On the year's biggest and most infectious single, "Call Me Maybe," the 26-year-old Jepsen sounds like a giddy teenager. But these two Canadians appeal to the same crowd -- girls, girls, girls.
Oct. 20, Target Center, $37.50-$87.50, ticketmaster.com
Marcus Roberts Trio and Bela Fleck: Pairing a jazz trio with the world's most adventurous banjo player is a recipe for excitement. Even though Roberts and Fleck each composed material for their fascinating new album "Across the Imaginery Divide," expect them to take off on imaginative improvised journeys in concert.
Oct. 17-18, Dakota Jazz Club, $40-$65, dakotacooks.com
Also: NOFX and Dillinger Four (Fri., Cabooze Plaza); David Byrne and St. Vincent (Sat., State Theatre); GZA and Killer Mike (Sept. 20, First Ave); Snow Patrol and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (Oct. 31, Roy Wilkins); the Gourds and James McMurtry (Nov. 10, Cedar Cultural Center).CAMPY FUN
Olivia Newton John: Let's get physical! Have you never been mellow? She's the one that you want. The pop-country princess, who ruled the charts from 1973 to '81, is still a regular on the concert circuit.
Sept. 24 Guthrie Theater, $55-$58, guthrietheater.org
Also: Meat Loaf (Oct. 19, Mystic Lake Casino); the Go-Go's (Oct. 3, Mill City Nights); the Monkees (Nov. 15, State Theatre).