October 06, 2009
By Jonathan Perry
Photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Nothing says family like fathers and sons (and a few daughters, too) in Kiss face paint. Kiss, which first spit flame to fame in the '70s as the fire-breathing, pyro-shooting, action-figure fantasy of teenagers everywhere, has stuck around for so many generations that Monday night at the Garden it was the parents who called their kids to tell them they'd be home late.

These days, Kiss is as much a brand as a band, and still a lucrative one at that. This particular jaunt around the world is billed as the "Alive 35 Tour," in honor of the foursome's landmark 1975 live album, "Alive!" But to its credit, the band has a new product to sell.

"Sonic Boom," which dropped yesterday, is Kiss's first album in over a decade. It's a return to the rock-and-roll-all-night-and-party-every-day formula of its heyday. "Modern Day Delilah," a surprisingly limber rocker from the new album, came early in the band's two-hour set. It held up well, alongside the band's "classics" that flanked it - "Got to Choose" and "Hotter Than Hell."

Of course, when "Hotter" happened, there was a lot of pyro shooting from the stage, and when there wasn't actual pyro, there was video of pyro. But the element that truly blazed was lead guitarist Tommy Thayer's scorching fretwork. Thayer, who seemed to quote liberally from the Jimmy Page solo playbook all night, proved a consistent highlight.

Likewise, Eric Singer did a solid job of keeping things suitably booming from behind his double bass drum. But the real surprise was Singer's powerful lead vocal on a hard-hitting "Black Diamond." His voice was a welcome breath of fresh air, and it gave singer-guitarist Paul Stanley a respite from his duties showing off his well-preserved falsetto (and plentiful chest hair), flying over the crowd on a pully to sing "Love Gun," and promising "the longest encore you have ever heard."

With a 30-minute stomp through "Shout It Out Loud," "Detroit Rock City," and a handful of other headbangers, they made good on their boast. Love 'em or hate 'em, Kiss usually does.