It seemed as if the world was at her feet. After finding fame and fortune as half of electro-pop duo Yazoo, Alison Moyet released her platinum-selling solo album Alf, won two Brit Awards and performed at Live Aid in 1985 with Paul Young.

Her booming, bluesy voice and throaty, melodramatic delivery transformed the Billie Holiday classic That Ol' Devil Called Love. She became a household name and sound.

Yet behind the scenes she suffered from anxiety and agoraphobia, and struggled for years to achieve the professional and personal happiness she finally found with the release of Hometime in 2002.

"If you count money or chart success I did really well," she says. "But not in terms of being proud of my work or even recognising myself in terms of what I was doing.

"I never had career plans. I never pictured myself at any time at any place, and I was shocked at how well-known I became. I wasn't prepared for it.

"That wouldn't have mattered if where I ended up had been more honest, if it had really been me.

"There I was wearing the clothes I had to wear because of my size. When you're a big girl you can't present yourself in the same way other women can you're limited by what goes on your body. And straight away you have a different image. You're bigger, therefore you're a mumsy kind of character.

"I remember reading someone saying: I imagine Alison Moyet coming out of her rose garden cottage.' It was so off the mark."

It was not just in terms of visual image that Alison felt she'd been shoved into a pigeon-hole where she didn't belong. Falling into the role of a pop diva by fluke, she was pushed by producers towards histrionic power ballads and commercial tunes she didn't want to sing.

"Becoming a pop singer was a complete accident," she recalls. "I left school unqualified but I knew I wanted to do something creative. I had no O'

Levels at all, and I thought: I know, I'll do a hairdressing apprenticeship'. It was the closest I could imagine to doing something creative."

After being sacked a month later, the young Alison's next step towards an artistic career was a piano-tuning course.

"I saw in a newspaper I could do a diploma in music because I had a grade five in oboe it was the only qualification I had.

"I would have been proud of being a piano tuner, I still would be. I love the idea of having a skill. It's tough, though. It's a three year course and then they reckon you could go on for another eight years before you're really brilliant at it."

Then the impassioned songstress, who had been performing in punk and blues bands since she was 15, received an invitation from one Vince Clarke who she had first met at the age of 11 when she played oboe and he played violin.

"He was on the periphery of the crowd I hung out with and became a pop star with two of my classmates with Depeche Mode.

"He called me up and said he had this song, would I sing it for the demo. Then he said the record company wanted to release it and that was that.

It was never an ambition, never a desire. It just came upon me."

The song, Only You, became a worldwide hit and the pair became the androgynous-sounding Yazoo. They merged cool soundscapes of synthesised music with catchy melodies and released two chart-happy albums, winning a Brit Award for Best New Band before Vince left to form Erasure.

"Initially I was really made up," admits Alison. "I was really excited to have a record out and to hear myself on radio. I did get really homesick on tour and really missed my mates I didn't like leaving my home town really, I was a bit of a Charlotte Church like that.

"But it was really good until Yazoo split up and then it wasn't so good.

"We split because Vince didn't want to work with me anymore. We never became mates really.

"I'm quite Mediterranean in that I'm feisty and I don't see raised voices as being an argument. I see that as discussion. But he's very very English in that he's reserved, and when things get too much he walks away from it. So I'd be as happy as larry being bolshy and he'd be walking away from me.

"Everyone presumed the split was because I wanted to go and have a solo career. But I never wanted to be a solo singer, I just didn't have any mates at the time to form another band.

"When the band split up we had a number one album, so you've got all the record companies calling up and throwing money at you. I was a bit naive and made some poor decisions."

Despite her reservations about a solo career, hits such as Love Resurrection, All Cried Out and Invisible and top selling albums like Alf and Hoodoo won her commercial success, a Grammy nomination and a Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist. Yet it was not enough to make Alison happy, and it wasn't long before battles with record labels and inner discontent transformed the feisty fighter into a vulnerable loner.

Since her albums made money, record labels ignored her desire to record a different kind of music. This led to a long, stubborn retreat to her country house.

"I wanted to change and they didn't want me to change," she explains.

"They didn't want to release me from my contract so I wasn't free to go anywhere else but neither would they let me go into the studio to work. I couldn't physically do anything.

"For me there was no choice. I couldn't be who these people wanted me to be."

With a compulsive hatred for the industry's narrow-minded obsession with fashion and shallow, celeb lifestyles, the singer retreated from the media world and became increasingly isolated.

"I became a bit of a Nobby-no-mates after I made a name for myself, because I hated the attention," she says. "I developed mental health issues. I now suffer from manic depressive tendencies and agoraphobia.

"Another reason why I couldn't really enjoy that period was because I was really f***** up from what happened before it. When Vince broke up Yazoo, I got assigned a new record label despite already having one in America and I was injuncted. The lawyers and all the record labels refused to answer my calls and I had no mates. I had a whole year like that before I came back with Alf.

"My agoraphobia started then, and that's when I got really fat as well. People always imagine me to have been obese all my career but in Yazoo I was still wearing size 32 jeans."

Things started to get a lot better when, towards the end of 2001, Alison made her stage debut in the West End hit musical Chicago.

"Chicago got rid of so many of those demons," she reflects.

"I used to get terrible stage fright, but then it stopped. For me it felt massive. It wasn't so much the being on stage in front of the audience that bit I understood it's the other bit, the being a normal human being bit that I'm not very good at doing.

"I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm being maudlin I'm not. I'm just telling you how it was. I'm a very chipper person, I'm happy with everything and I'm not bitter. It's just the way it went.

"Chicago was fantastic because I was part of the community I always wanted to be in. I got to sing every day without being the star the onus wasn't on me. I made a lot of mates and got to go to work every day and be normal."

Alison's outlook became even brighter with the release of her 2002 album Hometime her first studio release for eight years. It quickly topped 100,000 sales, and earned her another Brit nomination and the best reviews of her career.

Hometime was a smoldering, bluesy collection laced with funky trip-hop music that had been rejected by Sony years before and had finally been given back to her so she could release it with someone else.

"It was lovely to be proved right, but you'd rather not have ten years of arguing," says Alison. "It was a shame in all ways because if they'd had a belief they could have done really well with the record and made some money out of it.

"As it was they lost out and it all ended horribly."

Despite such turbulent times, there is a natural warmth, openess and sense of self worth which shines out from the singer's articulate chatter.

Alison is happily married, the mother of three children and clearly back on track doing what she wants. After this tour and some summer festivals, her next plans are to perform a play with her long-time pal Dawn French.

"It'll be a drama, but there'll be some music," she says. "I'm certainly intending to make Dawn sing."

On this tour Alison will be backed by an eight-piece band and string quartet, and she will sing songs from Hometime and her latest album Voice a selection of jazz, lounge and romantic opera covers.

"Covers weren't the raison d'etre for me I wanted to work using my voice as an instrument and learn songs from sheet music rather than from the record itself, like an actor who works from the written play.

I know that sounds a bit pony, but my take on that is: Would you say to Dame Judi Dench you're covering Shakespeare?'

"I've been pressured to do covers for years by record labels who know they can make money from them. But it was only after doing Hometime that I felt I'd been appreciated as a songwriter, like I'd proved I was not creatively starved, and felt like I could try something different.

"Ultimately it's not about other people, it's about you. It's not about how many you sell at the end of the day that makes a record valid, it's the reason you want to do it in the first place.

"As it happens Voice has been a very successful record and I'm very grateful for that but that absolutely wasn't the reason why I did it."

Starts 8pm, tickets cost £16.50-£22.50. Call 01273 709709