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Preachin' to the choir

Legend shines on: Madonna still at the top of her game in fun-filled concert with some new twists

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10, Madonna concert, October 2012
Madonna expresses herself on stage. Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
1, Madonna concert, October 2012
Joined with a team of Gwen Stefani-esque band majorettes (think "Hollaback Girl"), Madonna performed an impressively strong rendition of "Express Yourself," complete with lyrics from Lady Gaga's "Born this Way."   Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
12, Madonna concert, October 2012
Madonna unleashes her inner cheerleader. Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
6, Madonna concert, October 2012
The pop legend mixed iconic tracks like "Vogue" with recent singles penned with M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj. Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
5, Madonna concert, October 2012
And you can dance.... Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
7, Madonna concert, October 2012
Half of the concert featured numbers from her MDNA CD; the rest were her classics. Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
8, Madonna concert, October 2012
Madonna performs another sold-out concert at the Toyota Center tonight. Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
3, Madonna concert, October 2012
Madge tapped into the full gamut of her career to keep her fans dancing. Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
11, Madonna concert, October 2012
Madonna acknowledges her Houston fans. Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
9, Madonna concert, October 2012
Madonna's supply of star power appears to be endless. Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
10, Madonna concert, October 2012
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It's been three decades since Madonna Louise Ciccone released her first single . . . And judging from the first of two sold-out shows at the Toyota Center, the Material Girl's supply of star power appears to be endless.

 Judging from the first of two sold-out shows at the Toyota Center, the Material Girl's supply of star power appears to be endless.

 While this particular tour revolves around her current MDNA album which provides almost half of the songs performed Wednesday night the classics were sprinkled nicely throughout the two-hour concert, as the pop legend mixed iconic tracks like "Vogue" with recent singles penned with M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj.

But as we all know, music is just one part of the full Madonna package. And with the MDNA tour, Madge has made sure to tap into the full gamut of her career to keep her fans dancing. Here's what you get:

Catholic overtones (heartfelt and irreverent)

They don't call her Madonna for nothing . . . As the show started with "Girl Gone Wild," stage curtains opened to reveal a massive altar backdrop, a gigantic hanging incense burner and no fewer than 10 dancing monks. A few songs later, "Papa Don't Preach" mysteriously swapped its overt Catholic themes for some sort of pagan ritual dance.

Homage to latter-day Madonnas

Constant self-awareness has always been part of Madonna's confident charm. In Wednesday's show, however, the singer turned her attention to other stars who've followed her lead through the years. Joined with a team of Gwen Stefani-esque band majorettes (think "Hollaback Girl"), Madonna performed an impressively strong rendition of "Express Yourself," complete with lyrics from Lady Gaga's "Born this Way" . . . which is basically the same song anyway.

Casual banter and serious politics

After catching a breath halfway through the concert, it was time for some social awareness with a frank discussion of democracy, gay rights and the young Pakistani protester who was attacked by the Taliban. Madonna chatted about the current presidential election, encouraging everyone to vote. Later in the show, Madonna removed a majority of her clothing to reveal a comically fake "Obama" tattoo on her back.

Fresh renditions

While some classic songs were performed with their original vintage sounds ("Vogue" had all its drum machines from 1990, for example), others enjoyed some surprising new arrangements. "Like a Virgin" was sung with only a violinist and a piano player in a top hat. "Open Your Heart" was a totally acoustic endeavor, backed with a trio of musicians from the Basque Country.

Fans in costume

For all of Madonna's many style phases the urban cowgirl, the "Justify My Love" psychosexual thing, the brunette "Like a Prayer" days devoted fans still flock to that vintage Ray-Bans-and-lace look when it comes to dressing for a concert . . . regardless of age, race or gender. It's pretty fantastic, really.

BONUS HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SHOW: the crazy "Express Yourself" outfit (the one with the monocle), Madonna playing guitar (and throwing the pick into the crowd) and a thirtysomething white male vogueing by himself (yup, guilty as changed).

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