It's one thing to sell 35 million records and have a current No. 1 single in America. But to play Ho Chi Minh City? Two weeks ago, as ''All for Love'' took the top of the pop charts, Bryan Adams became the first Western artist to perform in Vietnam since James Brown played there in 1971. The idea for the groundbreaking event came about casually, although the Vietnamese government insisted on reviewing videos and lyrics before agreeing to the concert. Once such incendiary Adams standards as ''Summer of '69'' and ''Heat of the Night'' passed muster, the former Saigon became the ninth stop on the singer's two-month, 15-city Asian trek, which included shows in Bangkok, Bombay, Kuala Lumpur, and Taipei.
Despite securing the go-ahead for the concert, Adams' entourage had some initial trouble getting through Vietnamese Customs. But, says tour coordinator Randy Berswick, ''Bryan Adams T-shirts worked better for Customs clearance than official documents.'' And the concert itself didn't get off to a great start. The humidity was intense, and the crowd was disturbingly subdued. ''For the first half of the show,'' says Adams, 34, ''everyone was glued to their seats,'' which is good in a movie, not so good in a concert. Adams attributes the audience's lack of exuberance to the presence of baton-wielding police. But the music won out-Adams' ''Please Forgive Me'' was a crowd pleaser. ''By the end,'' he says, ''it was like a regular concert.''