Sting and Peter Gabriel, who first toured together in 1986, are back on the road for the “Rock Paper Scissors” tour, during which they’ll sing each other’s songs and sing together. They appear at KeyArena on Thursday, July 21.

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In the concert business, artists who had their biggest success in decades past are politely called “legacy acts.” To command increasingly high ticket prices, their tours are often “packaged” with multiple stars on one bill. The tour that hits KeyArena on Thursday (July 21) with Peter Gabriel and Sting is without a doubt a “legacy package.”

But what a package it is, and what a legacy both men command. Gabriel, 66, had hits with Genesis starting in 1969, and then with a long solo career and MTV stardom in the ’80s. As a co-founder of WOMAD and Real World Records, he’s also an influential and respected tastemaker, helping to popularize world music. He hasn’t played Seattle in years.

A Sting show is a more common occurrence (his Back to Bass tour was here two years ago). But after selling more than 100 million records with the Police and as a solo artist Sting hardly needs the money, though his last high-profile venture was the failed Broadway show “The Last Ship,” which might serve as a motivation to return to the sure bet of concerts.

Concert preview

Peter Gabriel, Sting

8 p.m. Thursday, July 21, at KeyArena, 305 Harrison St.; $45-$485 (800-745-3000 or

Still, at 64, the yoga-toned performer could probably be spending his time having lengthy tantric sex (he will never outlive his 1990 quip about having sex for seven hours).

This particular tour — despite ticket prices for “platinum seats” of $485 — was at least in part motivated by the friendship between the two men. They first teamed up in 1986 for the Amnesty International Human Rights Now! tour and have been tight ever since.

As co-headliners, they will be onstage together the whole show, with the same band (which includes original E Street Band pianist David Sancious). The “dueling stars” is a gimmick that Elton John and Billy Joel perfected a few years ago, and Sting himself did it with Paul Simon.

But this legacy package has yet another twist. They have titled it “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” and for some of the show they will sing the other’s hits. Which means if Seattle is like other stops, Sting will sing Gabriel’s hit “Shock the Monkey,” and Gabriel will do the Police’s “Message in the Bottle.”

They’ll also duet on things like “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” and “Driven to Tears.” But better yet, each will step back as part of the band to back each other instrumentally when they aren’t vocalizing.

Before the tour, Sting said that he was interested in the concept because it would create “an unexpected result.” Early reviews have been raves.

This “legacy package” is not completely spontaneous — they are playing mostly the same set in each city. But the concept does mean that what you hear on Thursday will be a one-time Seattle event, a true collaboration not to be repeated. And that’s a package worth opening.