Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson is ready to bring the noise to Download tonight when the festival headliners take to the stage in a few hours time. The heavy metal icon, airline pilot, broadcaster, novelist and all-round rock'n'roll good guy shared his thoughts with the Mercury ahead of tonight's performance. It will mark 25 years since Iron Maiden first played the Castle Donington rock festival in 1988, then in its earlier incarnation of the Monsters of Rock. "I'm looking forward to it, " said the 54-year-old rock god. "It's our third time at Donington now and our big anniversary since first playing here 25 years ago. "I think it will be quite special and we've got an absolutely cracking show lined up." The band will play to an expected 100,000 fans, and Bruce is excited that for many it will be their first Iron Maiden show. "The band is now bigger than it ever has been," he said. "And it's clear a lot of people here will have only discovered our music since 2005. "All these people would have only been 15 or 16 years-old then. "That's how we've got bigger over the years – not just by clinging onto our 50-something fans but by introducing our music to a new generation of teenagers every 10 years or so. "That in itself is remarkable for me." Bruce said the set they play tonight will include some of the songs they performed in 1988, including hits Run to the Hills and Number of the Beast. The singer has been recovering from a virus that knocked him for six during two sold out shows in Frankfurt earlier this week after which doctors advised him to rest. "I feel loads better now," he said. "And once I get out there on stage I'll be great. "This is the largest event of our whole summer tour and it's important that we do a great job." Bruce added: "This is it – Donington. It's the only place in the UK where you can actually make a proper noise! "At Reading (festival) they find the noise so objectionable, if the wind changes slightly then you can't hear the band. "Glastonbury's okay, but you can't move for yurts and discarded copies of the Guardian (newspaper). "Donington, on the other hand, is an incredible festival for any band wanting to make a great bloody racket."