The last time Madonna came to town, Beth Ingebretson missed the concert after hitting that most impenetrable of roadblocks: Mom's disapproval.
"My dad was willing to let me go, but not Mom," lamented Ingebretson, who was 9 at the time.
Like most of the lifelong Material Girls who vogued their way into downtown St. Paul Saturday for Madonna's first Twin Cities show in 25 years, Ingebretson wasn't letting anything keep her away this time. Not the $47 to $380 ticket prices. Not the mocking jabs from her brother and co-workers. Not even her own disagreement with some of the singer's frequently voiced political beliefs.
"She says and does whatever she wants, and that's why we love her," said Ingebretson, 34, who's now free to do whatever she wants, too. She has traveled to Chicago five times in the past 11 years to see her favorite pop star -- but this time is different, she said. "We've been waiting so long for her to come back. This is like a big release for us."
That pent-up excitement made for quite a celebration around Xcel Energy Center, where Madonna performs again Sunday. Tutu-like skirts mixed with gold lamé tops and Madonna T-shirts as fans broke out their old "Like a Virgin" or "Like a Prayer"-era looks.
David Gardner, 32, wore a sweatshirt from her current outing, the MDNA Tour, having already seen the show in his native Toronto. He said he traveled to the Twin Cities to see it again because of the 25-year wait here: "I figure the fans are going to be more hungry."
While the retro-'80s attire harkened back to that bygone era when a mouthy diva from Detroit singing the V-word was the scariest thing in pop, it also underlined how much things have changed for Madonna's core audience.
Many of the Material Girls who once had to get Mom's approval are now mothers themselves. Instead of messing up their hair with Aquanet and dying their lacy skirts, they had to get a baby sitter and maybe see to another dye job. Instead of saving up their allowance, they had to break out a credit card and pay as much as 10 times the 1987 ticket prices ($22-$37).
Kelly Koehnen wore the "Like a Virgin" T-shirt she bought at age 15 at Madonna's Twin Cities debut in 1985, and brought her own 15-year-old daughter, Michelle.
"Maybe in 15 more years, she can bring her daughter," Koehnen said sweetly, drawing an eye-roll from Michelle, who did say she likes Madge as much as Lady Gaga.
Laura Condon Leventhal, a Minneapolis mother of boys ages 6 and 4, bought tickets with her best friend from junior high, who also accompanied her to a Madonna show in the '80s.
"A lot of people are mad she isn't doing more of those old songs," she said, "but I'm actually interested in seeing the New Madonna that I've missed since I redirected my life to kids and 'Sesame Street' and whatnot."
Excitement around this weekend’s concerts also ran high among the gay men who make up another big chunk of Madonna’s crowd — and have also seen plenty of change in 25 years. Instead of the conservative tone and AIDS crisis that defined the era around her last concert here, they celebrated openly Saturday and came out heavily dressed in “vote no” attire.
From the stage, Madonna addressed Minnesota's proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage when she led the crowd in a "vote no" chant mid-concert. "We live in a democracy," she said. "You can marry who you want."
And yes, there were a few men in the crowd who dressed like her, too.
"She's worth getting dolled up for," said Matt Fever, who performed as his drag-queen persona Krystal Kleer at a concert pre-party Friday at Camp, a St. Paul bar. He then watched the Queen herself perform Saturday night and is headed to Sunday's show, too.
Having seen her '87 show in St. Paul when he was 16 and several Chicago shows since then, Fever noted how his appreciation for Madonna has evolved over the years: "I just liked her voice and her look back then," he said. "Now, I love who she's become: an outspoken activist, a mother of two adopted kids and just one of those rare icons."
As for superfan Ingebretson, she grudgingly admits her mom was right in not letting her see the show at age 9. However, she thinks some people have the wrong perception of Madonna and she expects these shows to remedy that.
"A lot of the naysayers around here are going to change their tune. You haven't really seen Madonna until you've seen her perform."
They had to wait a little bit longer to finally see her Saturday. The Queen did not enter the building until 10:35 p.m., and she proceeded to blow fans away -- with guns. Her opening montage of "Revolver" and "Gang Bang" featured gun-toting dance routines and blood-splattering video.
Clearly, Madonna herself has changed a lot in 25 years, too.