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Gary Barlow encourages global fans to use VPNs to watch UK-only livestream

By | Published on Wednesday 20 May 2020

Take That

Gary Barlow has urged fans to skirt location restrictions that have been placed on an upcoming UK-only online Take That event. Obviously fans do this sort of thing all the time, but it’s interesting that an artist who presumably knows (or at least could find out) why those restrictions are in place would overtly encourage them to do so.

For the online event, sponsored by Compare The Market, Take That will reunite with Robbie Williams (but not Jason Orange) for what is being billed as “their only performance of the year”. Given ongoing lockdown restrictions, exactly what that will entail isn’t clear. Four people singing on a Zoom call isn’t that great, no matter who you are. Gary Barlow has been referring to it as a “gig” though. Whatever, people are excited about it. And not just in the UK.

The problem is, the livestream on YouTube and Facebook Live will only be available to those connecting to said sites from a UK internet connection, even though Take That, of course, have fans all over the world. As those fans have been keen to point out. “Please help”, wailed one on the Facebook event page. “It’s only available for people in the UK. We cannot even watch the promo video! Take That belongs to everyone!”

Unfortunately, while the spirit of Take That may belong to everyone, very little else does, thanks to deals bands do with different companies. It’s not clear if the geographic restrictions on the streamed event are in place due to issues around licensing the band’s music or as a result of their sponsorship deal with the UK-focussed Compare The Market. However, what is certain is that they are in place and fans don’t like it.

It’s alright though, Gary Barlow is here. While not laying out options himself, he has been retweeting fan accounts offering different ways to circumvent the geo-blocking through the use of VPNs. He then also called on “the army” (his fans I think, not the actual army) to spread the word about this.

The retweets haven’t been taken down as yet, so presumably whoever is in charge of next week’s big stream hasn’t noticed or is just turning a blind eye. But still, Barlow is definitely breaking the rules and has just recommended at least one VPN to fans which is generally not considered safe to use in privacy and security terms.

Elsewhere on Barlow’s Twitter account, he’s also implied being fine with people illegally downloading a live performance that was shown on Sky One. So maybe he’s just a fan of breaking content rules and restrictions in general.

Anyway, fans in the UK (and the world over, just don’t tell anyone official) can watch this livestream at 8pm UK time on 29 May. Here’s a trailer: