The coronavirus pandemic has managed to spread its misery to every corner of the earth, with millions out there feeling there’s little to look forward to. For fans of Take That, however, there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel.
This Friday 29th May at 8:00pm, Take That’s Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, and Mark Owen – together with former band member Robbie Williams – will perform a charity concert directly from their own homes. The event is being put together by insurance company Compare the Market (Compare the Meerkat) at a reported cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds, without an official venue in sight.
Instead, the quartet will broadcast to fans via the Meerkat Music YouTube channel and Facebook Live and considering the absolute dearth of new programming currently on TV (not to mention the massive popularity of Take That and Robbie Williams), millions are expected to tune in.
That, however, comes with a caveat. The one-off event is reportedly only going to be available for residents of the UK, so for fans across the rest of Europe, the United States and beyond, the concert will be off-limits. This is already proving a source of frustration for international fans and there have been a number of complaints that restricting the show, especially at such a sensitive time, is really unfair.
Of course, people aren’t just going to sit back and accept that so, inevitably, there have been many people posting online on how to access the show on YouTube from outside the UK. VPNs are the logical choice since they allow people to change their online locations and convince YouTube that they’re in good old Blighty.
What was slightly unexpected was for Gary Barlow himself to give the movement his support. After receiving advice on VPN use from a fan on Twitter, Barlow gave a shout out to fans, asking “the army” to spread the word on how to bypass YouTube’s restrictions.
That Gary Barlow himself is encouraging fans to skirt geo-blocking is interesting for a number of reasons, not least that given the planned restrictions, music licensing is probably at the root of the issue. The details of the Compare the Market / Take That / Williams / YouTube deal aren’t public but if the concert isn’t planned for worldwide broadcast, it probably isn’t licensed for that eventuality.
Of course, millions of fans around the world could care less about that and it’s difficult not to have sympathy with them.
“How about just make it global like other artists are? You have fans worldwide. We want to support you. It’s sometimes like you don’t believe you have that many fans. It’s the same with gigs on iTunes. Can’t get them in NZ,” a fan wrote on Twitter. ”
“It’s a shame things like that are necessary for ‘the army’ outside the UK,” added another.
While the VPNs suggested in the tweet may very well do the job, there should be concerns that Take That fans who aren’t so tech-savvy will head off to Google Play to download any old VPN in the hope that they grant access to the event. That isn’t advisable.
Given the numerous reports that free VPNs can be a privacy and security nightmare, fans should exercise caution by doing their research before choosing one for long-term use.
In summary, Take That fans should never forget that picking the right VPN could help them rule the world, even if they do take a little patience to set up. These days, fortunately, most only take a minute, so for many fans Friday might turn out to be the greatest day after all.
I’ll get my coat…