Although this live album was recorded years before Herbert Grönemeyer's commercial peak, the songwriter had plenty of hits in his catalog at the time of its release, many of which are reprised here. Several months prior, Grönemeyer broke the language barrier on MTV Unplugged by becoming the first non-English-speaking artist to perform on the show. He sounds similarly confident here, breezing his way through singles like "Bochum" and "Deine Liebe Klebt" to an audience that sings along to every word.
Although his first four solo albums were commercial disappointments, 1984's Bochum turned Herbert Grönemeyer into the biggest musician in Germany. Featuring a blue-collar, stadium rock sound and highly literate lyrics including double entendres, puns, and other creative word play Bochum became the best-selling German album of all time, a record it held until Grönemeyer's Mensch beat it two decades later.
Schiffsverkehr, Herbert Grönemeyer's 13th studio album, is the beginning of a new chapter for the German singer: after losing both his wife and his brother to cancer in 1998, his past couple of albums have been informed by his grief, and while Schiffsverkehr doesn't dispense with the melancholic ballads, it marks a return to the more experimental sounds of his album Bleibt Alles Anders, coupled with a stronger focus on guitars and synthesizers, giving the album an '80s sound with elements of Deutschrock. Just like its two predecessors, the record reached the number one spot in the German, Austrian, and Swiss album charts (thus continuing a streak of number one albums in Germany that has lasted since 1984's 4630 Bochum).