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Britney Spears, Barry Manilow, Antony & the Johnsons
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

The "secret" is out - Britney Spears is coming to the Tacoma Dome on April 9 with special guests the Pussycat Dolls! If this doesn't spell Gay road trip, I don't know what does. The pop diva, despite her downs and ups (and running over people's feet), has bounced back into the spotlight with her sizzling hit "Womanizer" and a kick-ass svelte figure (I could scrape hummus off that stomach). Spears announced her North American tour on Good Morning America earlier this week, and thank God for that, because I was sworn to secrecy for 12 whole days and desperately needed to tell somebody. The Louisiana native, a huge icon among 20- and 30-something Gays, will no doubt sprinkle her show with new material from her just-released album Circus but I expect she'll add "Toxic," "Boys," "I'm a Slave 4 U," "Oops&I Did It Again," and "&Baby One More" into her set. The smokin' hot Pussycat Dolls will certainly loosen up your buttons, opening the concert in barely-there outfits and through-the-roof heels. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (10 a.m.) at all Ticketmaster locations - at press time, specific prices weren't available. Over 100,000 tickets for Spears' London concerts were sold before any advertisements ever hit print or online media, so get yours right away to avoid being in the nosebleed section.

Re-memorize those lyrics to "Copacabana (At the Copa)" and dig your shiny disco shirt out of the closet because you'll need both on March 15 when Barry Manilow performs at Everett's Comcast Arena. The show is billed as "Ultimate Manilow: The Hits&and then some," which translates to prepare yourself for "Mandy," "Can't Smile Without You," "Looks Like We Made It" and "The Old Songs." Manilow recently put out The Greatest Songs of the Eighties, a follow-up to similar albums dedicated to notable material from the '60s and '70s. The question is, will he stop now, or soon release The Greatest Songs of the Nineties with re-worked pop-lite versions of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Nuthin' But a G Thang" and "Erotica"? I've pretty much had it up to here with the hits machine and want him to start composing more sing-along, rico suave tunes like he did back in the day. Between Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow and dinosaur Tony Bennett, I'm not sure there's any more songs that need to be redone - they've re-sung them all. I do hear, however, that Manilow, who got his start playing in bathhouses with Bette Midler (surprise!), is an incredible live performer, so don't miss his upcoming concert this spring. Tickets, priced between $52 and $252, go on sale December 8 (10 a.m.) at www.comcastarenaeverett.com.

Antony & the Johnsons claimed SGN's Best Album/CD honor with 2005's illustrious I'm a Bird Now. After a three-year gap and collaborative project called Hercules and Love Affair, the openly Gay artist released an EP last month titled Another World and has just plotted a US winter-spring trek that includes a date at Seattle's Moore Theatre on February 28. Antony & the Johnson's music can best be described as fragile, dramatic, piano-brushed songs drawing from a blend of real and imaginative worlds - it's like Rufus Wainwright on downers. This unique performer won the UK's Mercury Music Prize for the aforementioned I'm a Bird Now, so he enjoys a large fan base overseas and a smaller, though very hipster, following in the US. At press time, no specific ticket information was available, but details should trickle in very soon.

If you track gifted singer-songwriters, put Griffin House on your radar. The Ohio-born newcomer, now living in Nashville, is the man behind one of 2008's sweetest ballads, "Better Than Love." House's entire album, Flying Upside Down, is chock full of wonderful material and recorded with members of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers. To pursue a music career, the young artist refused a prestigious golf scholarship and instead bought a used acoustic guitar for $100 - the decision was a good one, as House has been referred to as the next Jackson Browne. He'll play at The Triple Door here in Seattle on January 20 with tickets, priced at $12.50, on sale now at www.thetripledoor.net. Ear-sample "Better Than Love" on YouTube or MySpace and listen to the sheer beauty of House's work. By the way, he's a babe.

I'm headed to Portland on Monday for Franz Ferdinand's sold-out concert at the Crystal Ballroom and will hopefully get a chance to say hello to the band while I'm there. Stay glued to "The Music Lounge" for exclusive Franz Ferdinand buzz. Until next week, support Britney Spears' addiction to Starbucks by purchasing tickets for her big show on April 9.
 

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