Erin Hill
June 28, 2017 10:30 AM

As The Lumineers prepare to wrap up their run as the opening act for U2 on the 30th anniversary tour of their most beloved album, The Joshua Tree, percussionist and co-founder Jeremiah Fraites opens up about the life-changing experience.

“It’s been really incredible,” Fraites tells PEOPLE. “I think it has been even better than we all thought. The fans are diehard, so to open up for that is pretty daunting.”

The Lumineers were chosen by the legendary band to play 10 shows during a portion of the North American leg of the tour. Their final two shows will be June 28 and 29 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

“There were nerves the first night, just that sort of apprehension, just feeling like, ‘Wow this is crazy!’ he says. “But I feel like each night has gotten much better.”

Fraites, who had never seen U2 in concert before, admits he was moved to tears when he first saw them perform.

“I actually started to cry a little bit the first night,” he says. “They started to play ‘Where the Streets Have No Name,’ and it’s so beautiful and well orchestrated and the sound is just so stellar. I was kind of crying in my seat with my friends and my wife — it was just so intense. I couldn’t help myself, it was just that beautiful.”

Steve Jennings/WireImage

The Lumineers also got the chance to meet with Bono and the band before they took the stage.

“They invited us to their green room and they were very sweet. It was surreal to just talk to them and say thank you. They were thankful that we were able to be there with them. You could tell they were excited to be on tour, this tour obviously has a lot of meaning for them.”

And opening for such an iconic band has given The Lumineers something to strive for.

“It’s pretty crazy that here we are, essentially five years since our first album came out, and we’re opening up for a band that is celebrating 30 years since their fifth album. It’s unfathomable how long they’ve been doing it. If we can just keep putting out music that connects with people and touches people, who knows? One day we could turn into a band that has grown up with fans that have stuck by our side.”

The Lumineers had just wrapped up their Cleopatra World Tour (following their sophomore album) when they joined U2 on the road in May.

“We sold out two nights at Madison Square Garden and for us, it was such an amazing experience. You think your production is big and then you go into a U2 show and it’s a really humbling experience. You think you’re in the majors, but then it’s like going back to T-ball!”

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And he says the recent Manchester Arena terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert hit close to home as they travel from stadium to stadium.

“Each and every night, [Bono] mentions Manchester and London. We felt very connected to it. As musicians, you acknowledge that there’s depression and sadness and terrible things in the world, and where we perform, that’s like your church, that’s your opportunity to try to make the world a less s—ty place for two hours. So for me, that’s a very sacred place. Those are places that should be safe, where people are trying to connect to something beautiful and artistic.”

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